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!
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….