Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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In the twists and turns, ups and downs, and whatever else describes and roller coaster of a baseball season, things are bound to happen that test your physical and mental abilities to the maximum. Luckily for me, I have had the privilege of experiencing both these tests this year, so it will come as no challenge to describe how it is we players deal with such adversity and how we are able to break on through and come out smiling (most of the time). I guess I’ll do the mental stuff first. When we look today at how much analysis is done within psychology and sport, it’s astounding that Sportscenter hasn’t run a special on the topic yet. I can only really speak for myself on the matter because, well, I’m not doing any other research nor am I a psychic and know how everyone else feels. But, I do go through the same season everyone else does, and share the same experiences so there should be a few continuities in feelings of mental stability in baseball. If the average person would hang around in our clubhouse in May, they would probably think we live the greatest life on the planet and it’s the coolest feeling on earth (this is actually how I feel at that time of the year). Then if you brought someone in, say now, they would think that the majority of us need to be seen for loss of sanity. Don’t feel bad, this is normal. Sometimes though, if you aren’t careful and let too much pile up, well my friends, let’s just say it isn’t too hard to have a bad day at the office after that. No one can really afford to get in a mental funk in the minor leagues, and for me I had a small episode where I belonged on a prozac ad. Fortunately at the right time, just as I thought the walls were closing in, I got the breath of air I needed, and it’s what has always gotten me through tough times. Family. My fiancee Amanda came down, followed by my parents and I never knew a little slice of home could do so much good. To a ballplayer, “home” usually becomes so ambiguous that you don’t know what gives you peace, comfort, and relaxation anymore. The way I like to think about it is home is what got you to where you are, and home is wherever you make it as long as you can be happy (or it’s what you need to touch in order to win ball games, you pick). It is my opinion that what really gets you through a tough part of the season is whatever you need to do that gets you home.
So most people wouldn’t consider baseball and real contact sport; that may be, however, it is hands down one of the most physically demanding. And playing 140 games a season, things happen which you never thought you would have to prepare for. My first on the field injury happened this past week while pitching in Brevard Co. against the Brewers affiliate. I left a ball a little over the middle to the three hitter (cardinal sin of pitching for those of you taking notes) and before I could blink our second baseman was fielding the ball and the back of my right hand felt like it exploded. Thank god we got the out, but as I saw the trainer and coaches run out I could only think, “I’m fine. I’ll keep going and it will just go away.” The knot couldn’t hold off any longer and decided to start swelling as they reached the mound, and I said let me throw a few to test it. And to be honest, I had no idea where those first couple throws were going and was worried I wouldn’t even get to face another hitter. But something I said must’ve worked because I finished that inning and then threw one more (the 3rd and 4th) before my hand swelled up to the point where I couldn’t feel the ball in my hand. So I had a good game going, my arm felt great, and then boom. The gods were smiling on me the next few days and following an x-ray and worrying it turned out to be just a bone bruise and I was back shaking hands like a man in no time thanks to the hot and then cold whirlpool treatment and a steady diet of anti-inflamitories. Like I said before I dodged a bullet, sort of, but there have been some of the guys this year who weren’t as lucky. However this is the nature of the game; some things happen you may not have foreseen. It’s how you respond and fight back each day until you have nothing left.
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