October 2010

this week in the AFL

where to start?? First, I would like to apologize to my loyal readers. Since this past wednesday was my 23rd birthday and my parents flew out to visit me, I haven’t felt the urge to sit down and blog about the past few days. I had a terrific time with the rents this week and they brought me some good luck as well! my first game that they saw me play in out here I went 4-4 with a bomb! Homers dare few and far between for me so I was excited that both my mom and pops were there to see me hit it. 

On Sunday, I accompanied my parents in some site seeing. We (by we I mean my mother) really wanted to see some of the mountains of arizona and as she calls it “getting culture.” We saw some amazing views and there was a span of 26 miles where we were on unpaved roads, meandering through tons of countryside. Our Chevy Aveo was the perfect vehicle to navigate the terrain… sike! It might be the noisiest riding car on the west coast. We got lunch in Tortilla Flats, which is a pretty cool little tourist attraction. The entire restaurant was lined wall to wall with dollar bills from people who have visited. the food was… eh but the experience was nice! notice the walls…
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As for the baseball, Us Desert dogs have been on the losing side of a few games as of late. for some reason we cant seem to get many clutch hits or keep runners opposing batters off the base paths. I am confident we will turn it around here soon, there are too many talented guys on our team for us to keep losing. 
On a side note, my beloved bike was stolen the other day. I am very devastated….
Post Script: Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday! I am normally not playing baseball when my birthday comes around. Hopefully someday I will have the opportunity to play in the World Series on my birthday! 

Another post..

Hello blog readers! I would like to give a shout out to all of you reading up on my experience out here in Arizona. The past few days here have been awesome. The temperature has been in the high 70s and perfect for fall baseball. The last two days the Phoenix Desert Dogs have taken on the Peoria Javelinas, once at home and once on the road. Yesterday we fell to those guys, but we avenged them at their place today. I played right field yesterday and left field today. I am starting to get in baseball shape again after not playing for roughly a month and a half. What I mean by that is I am not waking up and feeling like my body has been punched by Kimbo Slice! I can also report that I know the names of everyone on my team now so its no longer “nice swing big guy” or “way to throw it buddy.”

Today was also the first day that we had a show and go. Apparently, Peoria was pounded with rain yesterday and the field was a little to wet to take BP and infield. No complaints on this end! We were trailing just about the whole game but came through with some clutch late hits, including a 2-run bomb to dead center from Brandon Laird, who normally is playing in the outfield but today was over at the social corner of first base. 
After the game, we came back, grabbed some food, showered and departed the clubhouse. I, along with my Braves teammates got our lift on at the Pure Fitness, where we got a membership for the duration of the fall league. Tomorrow we are back at it but at home taking on the Surprise Rafters. Also, tomorrow night I am going to a Phoenix Suns  pre-season game with my agent, to see Steve Nash take on the Denver Nuggets. 

The day off

Lets see, today I was restful! I woke up around 11:30 and didn’t really move from the couch until my roommate Erik Cordier and I decided to walk to the bike shop down the street. We asked the lady about possibly renting a bike but it would cost more money to rent than it would be to buy one. I now have a sweet white cruiser bike! We can return it and get half the money that we payed for it back so it seems like a good investment. We took a long and enjoyable trip around ASU’s campus and through other parts of Tempe! I must admit I was like a kid in a candy shop riding on my new bike. Cordier kept turning around and laughing at me because I had such a big smile on my face. I am pumped about my new mode of transportation.

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Trip to Surprise.

After a few straight night games in which we got to play in beautiful Arizona evening weather(minus last nights dust storm), it was time to wake up early again and hit the road for 12:35 game in Surprise, Arizona. This facility has been the nicest place, in my opinion we have played at. The visitor locker room was nice, clean, and spacious which is always nice. The stadium is shared between the Kansas City Royals, and the Texas Rangers. I’m not really sure how it works come spring training time but as far as the Arizona Fall League goes it works well because the Surprise Rafters team is made up of the Royals, Cardinals, Brewers, Rangers and the Tigers. 

Before the game, while we were scrambling to get some food in our systems, some Oakley’s Reps came in and were exchanging old sunglasses for a brand new pair. I took complete advantage of this because my Oakley M-Frames were about 6 years old. I got some white Radars and complimented it with two other awesome lenses. Here’s a picture of them..
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Anyone who knows me, knows I love cool gear so I was thrilled to trade in my old sunglasses for these. As for the game we didn’t score as many runs as the Rafters so, yea. Final score was 10-4. But we will bounce back. As for tomorrow, we have our first off day so it will be nice to go explore Arizona, and get our legs under us for the next six game set. 
So far, I am loving my experience here, and meeting some really cool guys from different organizations. I am learning a lot just by being around some of the top players in the minor leagues. Yogi said it right, “You can observe a lot just by watching!”

let the games begin..

OK, so yesterday was our first game, and a home game at that. Our opponent was the Mesa Solar Sox comprised of the Mets, Cubs, Angels, Pirates and Phillies. Since we are required to take infield so many times per week, the first half of the day was no different than the previous few, stretch throw, infield, then batting practice. The hitting groups were as follows: first 5 batters of the lineup in the first group, batters 5-9 plus one, then the guys who were selected to be designated high five givers during the game were in group three. I was a high five giver/ first base coach in our home opener. When it comes to first base coaching, there are guidelines to follow. Normally there are about 4-5 people who aren’t in the game that can be selected as a first base coach. First when you get a runner on base, you casually walk over and give them either a high five, butt slap, or close fisted pound followed by the standard “atta’ boy”, or “nice piece of hitting”, or “good eye champ.” Then you take their batting gloves and fold them nicely together so that you don’t lose them. And if they are wearing protective armor, you can A: wear it, or 2: toss it over to the dugout(if the dugout is on the first base side, which it is when we are home). Next, you pay attention to the third base coach and make sure the baserunner gets the sign if any. Lastly, you rifle through the huge sum of seeds that you stuffed in your mouth before walking out to the coaches box. Or if you prefer  bubble gum, you try to blow massive bubbles while assuming the first base coaches power position(wide stance hands on your knees), making sure to keep your eyes on the pitcher. When the team scores a run while you are out there, you have just bought yourself another inning. Yesterday Curry from the Florida Marlins brought us Desert Dogs the luck, I think he was responsible for all of our teams runs just by coaching first base. I ran out there twice but didn’t even get a runner on base. Not my best showing, but its early and I am confident I will improve. Mattingly gave me a hard time as I was putting a helmet back in the rack saying “I thought you were better than that as a first base coach, you couldn’t even get a runner on??” I wore it. We lost our first game, but we got 30 something to go… 

Today, we had a night game on the road in Mesa. I woke up around 8:30 on my own and ate a bowl of lucky charms. Since I don’t really know what to do in Tempe, or have a means of transportation I decided to take a nap. why not? Post nap, I took a shower and walked to the delicatessen down the street called Chompie’s and grabbed a few toasted bagels. I believe one poppy and one pumpernickel and both were delicious. From there I hitched a ride to the field in the Kia. The bus trip was a short 15 minute drive, but we all were wearing our BP tops and pants. I sort of felt like i was back in legion ball simply because I hadn’t worn a baseball uniform on the bus since high school.  I was in the lineup today playing in Centerfield and batting first. 
We get to take batting practice in the stadiums on the road so I made sure to get some reads in center to get used to the foreign field. Once again a very large field but it plays fairly normal.  I had a pretty good night at the plate and played a part in helping our team avenge the Solar Sox. Our dugout is extremely loose which is how I like it. I think the final score tonight was 6-3, we scored a few runs in the 8th and 9th to put it out of reach. I forgot to bring an extra shirt today so i had to wear my quasi sweaty BP undershirt. Fortunately it wasn’t a long ride back to our stadium. We have a few more night games in the next few days so I imagine my next few days will be just about the same. D-dogs Record: 1-1.
 

Last day of practice.

I believe I speak for everyone when I say that we are growing tired of practice. Today was slightly different than the previous few practice days. I took it upon myself to track a few pitchers’ bullpens today, just to try to get used to seeing live pitching, seeing how I haven’t seen any in over a month! As for the team meeting, Donnie Baseball went over a few house keeping details in preparation for tomorrows first game! Again, a very short speech from our manager. 

We got to actually practice in the stadium today which was new and exciting. The dimensions on the field are 345′ down the lines and 410′ in center. A very large field, but with the thinner air it plays pretty normal. The team fundamental was a quick Infield and Outfield. I took 4 throws (2 to third and 2 home). Pretty standard stuff. I was in group three again for batting practice today and I will report no BP bombs again… Saving them for the games?? haha
I am running out of things to say about these practice days so I apologize for the monotony. Words can’t explain how much i’m looking forward to putting on my uniform and having our first game of the Fall League tomorrow. More to come…

Another day of practice!

So today I woke up, and left for the field around 9am. Got some breakfast and and threw on my big league uni. Another very short pre practice meeting from our skipper and then we all headed out to the back field. Our defensive fundamental was first and third plays for the pitchers and infielders. Us Outfield guys were the base runners yet again. Then the pitchers and infielders worked on their pick plays just to get used to each other. standard preseason type stuff. 

After completing the fundamental, the pitchers took it in for the day, and the position players hit BP. It was convenient not having the pitchers shagging today so we could get some quality reads without having to maneuver around them. I took some reads in right field alternating with Yankees OF, Brandon Laird. I was in the third group today and my new friend and fellow group 3 hitter Kyle Skipworth, of the Marlins Organization, told me he had a feeling I was gonna have a BP bomb today, he just had a hunch. I thought I got one today but right field is roughly 450 (at least it seems like it) away. I short hopped the fence. It was all i had. oh well!
When BP was over we had some easy conditioning. Day Over. I decided to get some extra work in again, as I did yesterday. I took about 40-50 hacks off a tee with hitting coach Jamie Dismuke (Braves AAA hitting coach) and Mattingly watching. And no, I wasn’t nervous that they were behind me watching. It was a productive session and I felt good leaving the cage. 
On a side note, we got our car the other day and its awesome. A Kia Sedona, with wood grain interior, 2 sliding doors, plenty of leg room, and a 7 inch DVD player!!!
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Day 2

Today started with us waking up around 6:45-7. Since I stay in the living room of our apartment, I didn’t have to set an alarm. I just let my roommates wake me as they came out of their respective rooms. We tried to get the van from the Best Western(where we are still checked in), to swing by the new apartment and grab us up. We weren’t sure if the van was coming so we hailed a taxi to get us to the yard. That was a first for me, pulling upto the field in a cab. I enjoy getting to the field early just to relax and in this case get breakfast. If you were wondering I had an everything bagel with cream cheese, a bowl of honey nut cheerios and some scrambled eggs which were prepared by our clubbie! After breakfast I got changed into my awesome big league uniform and sat around and shot the breeze with some of my new teammates- I still don’t know many of the names of them. 

As for the baseball side of things, we did just about the same thing as yesterday, except today we did some bunt coverages in which I, along with the other outfielders were the dummy runners for the drill, the usual for us OF guys. I was in the first group today because they wanted to have all the groups face a different BP thrower. So, i got to hit off Don today. As i expected, he’s a pretty good BP thrower. After my rounds, I decided to run out to right field to get some reads out there. The field we have been hitting on has a mini infield in the right field portion, so I had to navigate around a random mound. Different but not do difficult to handle. After the other two groups hit we had to do some conditioning. The conditioning was for us to run around the edge of the infield at about 75-80% 6 times, 3 down and 3 back. Nice and easy. 
At the conclusion of the conditioning our day was over and we all headed into the clubhouse for lunch. From there I headed back to the apartment. And that just about sums up my day, aside from going to buffalo wild wings to watch some of the playoff games. Now its time to settle down and get ready for tomorrows events! Harrilchak out… 

Day 1

Today was exciting to say the least. I slept terrifically simply because I had been awake 3 hours more than I thought due to being on the west coast. I was in mid conversation with my hotel roommate Kyle Cofield when I fell asleep unannounced at around 10 pm west coast time. I woke up around 6 am. I woke up, showered and ate a good breakfast consisting of a bowl of frosted flakes, brown sugar and maple oatmeal, banana and a small cup of quasi-decent coffee.

The Braves invitees all took an early Best Western van to the field at 7am. We were the first to get to the field and it took some time to find our way into the field and find the clubhouse. After a nice walk around the perimeter of Phoenix Municipal Stadium we weaseled our way into the clubhouse, with a little help from the guy who was trimming the shrubbery. Once we found our way in we walked into the extremely large clubhouse with about 2/3rds of lockers being unoccupied. I found my locker and immediately checked out the gear we had been supplied- 4 pair of big league pants (two gray and two white). We also got a spring training blue top, home white and away gray jersey top. While digging into our lockers, none other than ex Yankee great and childhood idol Don Mattingly walked into the clubhouse and introduced himself to us! Being a fan of the Yankees growing up it was an understatement to say I was happy to meet a man of his stature. We exchanged pleasantries and I tried to act as professional as possible considering I haven’t met a person I grew up watching and idolizing in my youth like Donnie Baseball. 

After that I went about my business of setting up my locker the way I wanted and cutting the elastic out of my big league pants so they would fit how i envisioned. At this time, everyone else was filing into the clubhouse getting situated and meeting people. I met just about everyone on my team from 4 other organizations (Yankees, Dodgers, Marlins and A’s). I must admit, I remember maybe 2 names, but I will learn their names eventually!

We had a team meeting at 9am where we went over team rules and all that jazz. Also Don sort of set the guidelines for how he wants us to play. Just how I imagined, he wants us to have fun and joke around (because that’s how baseball should be played), but when it’s game time we are expected to get after it and play hard! 

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We had some time to walk around the clubhouse and socialize with our new teammates before we headed out to the field for our first workout. First workout was a cakewalk. The workout consisted of a team stretch that lasted about 15 minutes- I didn’t need to stretch, I was loose from just putting on the big league uniform! After the stretch we threw the way we normally do, pitchers on the RF line and position players on the LF line, and as usual the position players were finished getting loose about 10 minutes before the pitchers… crazy pitchers. Our batting groups were broken up into 3 groups, I was in the 3rd group. Infielders took as many ground balls as they wanted and outfielders shagged fly balls as they wanted, pitchers just shot the breeze. 
Each group hit for about 15 minutes and after the first round made a trip around the base paths, getting reads to move to the next base, standard. I was a little nervous about the round of BP considering I had a left handed BP pitcher and I really don’t remember having a left handed pitcher throw batting practice since… well ever. In between my BP I had a small talk with our manager (Mattingly),where he was just trying to get a feel for me, asking me where I batted in the order this season and all that good stuff. I made a reference to a book I had read named Batboy, which was a depiction of a fan who grew up a yYankee fan and had the opportunity to batboy for the New York Yankees. I asked him if there was a left handed bat stretcher available because my bat felt short from the flight over to the west coast. We shared a laugh and he told me that he enjoyed hitting against lefties because he felt like it made righties a little easier to face. I agreed!
We finished BP and headed in for the day. There was some time to kill after our first workout because we had a team meeting consisting of a MLB security presentation (something we have all heard about in Spring Training) and a presentation about Nutrition and Athletes Performance training. Very informative but something I have already heard. Still beneficial to hear again.  After the meeting we headed out to the hotel and I, along with my Braves teammates, packed up out hotel room and moved into our new apartment. We are only a few miles away from the field and in walking distance from Arizona State University. Once moved in, we walked down the street to get some dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening. Now its bed time because tomorrow has a whole new list of activities! Day one in the books…. 

First Day in Phoenix!

Well I didn’t get much sleep last night due to the excitement of me flying across the country for the first time! Fortunately for me, my mother whipped up a nice big breakfast to kickstart my day of travel. The stellar breakfast consisted of a 4 egg omelet, bacon (turkey for some reason, but oh well), rye toast, and a glass of hot tea.

After saying goodbye to the parents, I hopped in my older brother’s truck and he dropped me off at the RDU Airport around 6:45. This is where he mentioned to me that he is fighting off the urge to hop in one of my bags instead of heading the rest of his way to work. I love being so close to the airport and especially being close to RDU (that’s Raleigh/Durham to those of you who aren’t familiar with NC). I would venture to say it’s one of the easiest airports to get in and out of in the land.

The first part of my trip was a 3 hour flight to Las Vegas, Nevada – another place i had never been to. Due to the minimal amount of sleep the night prior, I took advantage of some shut eye on the first plane. However I did wake up to us flying over the grand canyon so that was pretty sweet. I snapped a few very amateur photos with my phone as we flew over. IMG00442-20101006-0955.jpg

My layover was rather non-existent in Vegas. It was a 10 minute walk to the terminal and a quick but over priced cheesesteak from Great Steak…. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten the combo meal! I was debating playing a few slot machines as I was waiting to board the plane, but fought the urge nicely. I did however wolf down my sandwich in front of one of the million slot machines in that airport.

The second flight was incredibly short and I could barely even read the USA Today article about Derek Jeter’s future with the Yankees and how he had a down year by his statistical standards. I still think he’s the man…

We touched down right on schedule and it was only a 10 minute wait to grab my bags. All bags accounted for! I then headed outside and grabbed a shuttle to the hotel. Met a nice older woman who was visiting Phoenix for a frisbee convention. Apparently there are six frisbee activities that people come here for this convention. I told her I enjoyed playing frisbee golf, or Frolf, and she got a good little chuckle. I told her what I was here for and both her and the driver rattled off about 20 questions or so in which i gave them my best answer… I am not really sure, or yes I am pretty excited!

Got to the hotel which is roughly 5 minutes away from Arizona State University around 1 o’clock west coast time. I found out who my roommate was in Kyle Cofield, a buddy of mine who played in AA Mississippi this summer, but his flight has been delayed so he won’t be getting in until around 7 tonight. So, I suppose I will quickly change clothes and start walking somewhere to see what this place has to offer. We have to report to the field tomorrow around 9. Pretty excited to be here!
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