Monday, February 16, 2009

Pitchers and Catchers

Back when I started working in baseball for the Cleveland Indians, the only feeling that rivaled winning in the playoffs was getting in your rental car in Orlando in the middle of February, rolling down the windows, and soaking up the 60+ miles to Winter Haven. The satisfaction had nothing to do with the drive itself - central Florida isn't necessarily known for stunning topography. Rather, it was the realization that another nascent season was upon us.

Of course, leaving the Cleveland winter behind didn't hurt.

The first event of every spring training is the opening meeting of the staff - front office, Major League coaches, AAA coaches, minor league coordinators and roving instructors. We always begin with some housekeeping items - introductions of new staff, important dates on the schedule, etc - but the meat is the roundtable discussion of each and every player in Major League camp.

As the various staff members share their experiences and perspectives, the discussion inevitably gets people excited. There are always new players in camp, new things to work on with veteran players, and a pervasive optimism. After all, our passion for this game has led us to these jobs, and we're all anxious to get started after four or five months of no baseball.

There are also always a few laughs, like the time in Oakland when a new staffer had compiled the depth chart which contained a young left-handed pitcher named Mark Mudler. Nobody really knew much about Mudler, but we had high hopes for a kid named Mulder. The poor guy never lived it down.

The next morning is full of greetings: "How was your winter? Family good?” But, as I’m sure the players suspect (or at least they should), it’s also full of whispers: “Did you see so-and-so? He looks great!” or the more sarcastic “It's good to see him so dedicated to eating fried food.”

The best part, of course, is when the players take the field, which all of pitchers and catchers are doing this morning. That's when everyone gets to do what they're here to do - players are throwing the ball around, coaches are coaching, and the front office... well, we're watching, evaluating, and just happy to be outside.

Leaving San Diego this weekend didn't have quite the same qualities as leaving Cleveland in the mid-90's. I now have a family, which makes it much more difficult to leave, and there's no urge to leave San Diego weather behind...ever (I actually drove through snow between San Diego and Phoenix on Saturday). That said, the feeling of arriving in spring training has not changed in my 14 years.

I hope it never does.

10 comments:

mweldon said...

You're not missing anything today. It's been pouring all morning. Tell us more about Latos if you get a chance. The U-T today said that you and KT were impressed.

Steve24 said...

Paul,

I'd love to get an hour by hour breakdown of what the daily schedule is in the spring for pitchers and catchers.

I think it would also be cool to see a copy of the players workout routine. I read in a mag Albert Pujols' workout routine once, pretty intense. Trevor Hoffman's workout routines are now legendary. I'd love to see what the Padres are doing now that guys are reporting to camp.

On a side note, when I was in high school my coaches got me a copy of the Seattle Mariners workout that I used to help build explosive movements through training fast twitch muscle fibers. This simple tweak to my workout paid huge dividends on the field and made me much quicker to the ball both in the field at and the plate.

Obviously workout philosophies vary from team to team. A little note from the strength coach or management about what you guys are doing to keep guys healthy, make them stronger and prepare for such a long season would be fantastic.

hector said...

How about bringing that kid Mulder to rehab with the club. If for some miracle the club is contending, he should be a great mid season addition, and if they are not, he could be traded.

It is not like pitchers like Latos grow on trees, but why not try to bring more arms like him instead of safer picks?

andrew10 said...

How Long in years do you think that the Padres will have the lowest or second lowest player budget?

Steve said...

As bad as the projections are for this club, I still can't wait. Baseball is still baseball.

Amy Cima said...

Thanks Paul! I love the spring. It's a time when every baseball fan can dream big.

field39 said...

A little off topic:

There is an article in Baseball America today suggesting that a lot of teams will be cutting back on international signings.
Do you believe this is true, and if so, will the Padres seek to take advantage of the situation?

Peter said...

Ummm... how to put this? I want your job!

Greg said...

Paul, what's your evaluation of Andy Marte, who was just designated for assignment by the Indians?

hector said...

Paul,

Would the Padres be interested in making a run at Edward Salcedo from the D.R.? there have been reports that his age is not accurate, but if he is talented, why not bring him in?