Wednesday, March 30, 2011

LOOK OUT BELOW!

That was a close call. A few minutes ago I was on the phone with my agent talking about a bunch of different things when my hotel phone started to ring. I've learned over the last month or so of living here that when the hotel phone rings it's never for me. Usually, I'll receive an "hola, Pablo por favor." I'll respond that Pablo doesn't live here and hang up. The phone will ring back two seconds later asking for Pablo again. Now the phone goes unanswered. A few minutes passed before I heard a loud banging on my door. When I opened it up it was a buddy of mine from our team telling me I better get down to the parking lot quick and move my car before it got demolished by a giant street light.

I quickly ran downstairs and was greeted by hurricane like winds and the type of sideways rain Forrest Gump had to deal with during the war in Vietnam. I then saw the street light. It was probably about fifteen to twenty feet high and leaning over onto a tall tree. It was only a matter of minutes before it came crashing down on my car, leaving me with a brand new convertible. Since I've never been a "top down" kind of guy I booked it to my car, started the engine as quick as I could, and slammed on the gas. There was now a crowd of guys standing inside the door leading outside the hotel watching as the wind put the finishing touches on the street light. About two minutes after I finished moving the car the light gave way and came crashing down into my old parking spot. I wish I got the actual crash on camera but I wasn't able to. All I know is it would have destroyed my roof and probably cost thousands of dollars to fix. I did capture two videos, one of the light being held up by the tree, and another after the light had fallen into my parking space. Enjoy.



Saturday, March 26, 2011

WHAT DAY IS IT?

Hey everybody! I hope you all had a great weekend. Speaking of weekends, and days in general, I have a quick story about days of the week. Most people don't believe me when I tell them that I usually have no idea what day of the week it is. There has been more than one occasion where I asked someone if today was Tuesday, and they responded with, "Ummm its actually Friday," all while wearing a look on their face that seemed to signify I was a dumb ass. Anyways, yesterday we had a meeting with insurance to help some of us understand what insurance is, and others to understand what kind of coverage our insurance provides. After a few failed jokes attempted by our presenter, she questioned our lack of enthusiasm by saying, "come on guys it's Friday, why aren't you all excited?" The room quickly burst out in laughter, with a few players yelling from the back of the room, "what's Friday?" See, I'm not the only one that doesn't know the days of the week anymore. As baseball players we play seven days a week, so there is no such thing as weekend or weekday. We keep our summers straight with "game days" and the very not so often "off day".

One more quick story about sports. I like to take pride in the fact that I am a pretty good judge of athletic talent, whether we are talking about baseball, football, or arm wrestling. Over the past few years I've done pretty damn well in fantasy football. Some guys in my league would like to argue that fact because I haven't won the "big one" yet, but I still consider Dan Marino and Jim Kelly great friggin' quarterbacks despite their lack of hardware. Anyways, I've decided to take any knowledge of sports I once possessed and throw them down the shitter. Over the past few months I've witnessed my girlfriend destroy me in both my ability to pick football and college basketball winners. A few weeks ago I decided that Ohio State would be my pick to win the NCAA tournament, citing specific reasons like their balanced offense, their dominant big man, their stingy defense, and their weird looking mascot with the enormous head. Laura however had her own strategies. She chose Kentucky to win the title. Her reason was that while visiting the school together last Spring she thought it was a "really pretty place." Well, she's two wins away from the damn trophy and my team has gone home for the Spring. Son of a bitch.

On a closing note, I wanted to answer some email questions I've received over the past few weeks. I am really sorry that I have been slacking with my ability to answer questions within a timely manner since Spring Training started. The video below has five questions that I got to today, and I will be sure to answer everyone else's over the next week or so. I hope everyone enjoys and have a great start to the week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

STAY OFF THE TRACKS

Hey guys, how are we all doing today? The baseball has continued here in Viera, Florida over the past few days as I've been back and forth between the Minor League and Major League games. It is crazy to think that the Major League season starts in only a little more than a week, and the Minor League year starts about a week after that. I've now been in Florida for a month, and time has really flown by.

Over the past two days I've had some interesting things happen to me. Yesterday we made a two hour bus trip down to Jupiter, Florida to play the St. Louis Cardinals. After a bunch of interesting episodes of balls being thrown at batters of both teams, the benches cleared as player's from each team ran onto the field after one of our batters was hit for the second time in the game. There were no punches thrown, but there was a lot of pushing and shoving and also a lot of jawing at each other. I wasn't in the game at the time so I made sure to quickly make my way from the bench towards the middle of the action for a front row seat. I'm glad no one got hurt or did anything stupid to warrant a suspension, but it definitely added some excitement to the afternoon. I've been in a decent amount of bench clearing episodes so far in my career, but never have I seen one during a Spring Training game. The video below is what most pitchers do when they see me charging the mound. Like I always say, "stay off the tracks when the trains coming through."



At today's game we were making our way to the home dugout when we saw a player from across the field sprinting for his life towards us. It turns out he was being chased by a swarm of bees. I swear I have never seen so many bees in one place in my life. The swarm had to consist of over a thousand bees, and they all were moving in a pack towards our team. We all ran from the dugout and towards cover like a bunch of school girls, but the bees decided to hang out for about fifteen minutes on the field. The game was delayed a good while until finally they decided they had enough and moved on. It was the first time in my life I've had a game delayed because of bees. This is the type of stuff that starts to happen when you've been at Spring Training long enough.

On a side note, a few games ago I got drilled by a fastball right in the ribs. It was one of those "deer caught in headlights" moments, when even though the ball was coming right at me I didn't really know where to go. To get an idea of what it felt like, check out this video below of a reaction quite similar to mine.


In all seriousness, I hope she is OK. Everybody have a great day, and if you happen to know this lady tell her I apologize.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

JUST DANCE

Wow! We are already almost a month into Spring Training. As much as it feels like I've put in a ton of work so far this Spring, it still doesn't feel like I've already been here for almost a months worth of workouts. Since arriving on February 23 I've been on the field for either a practice, a game, or both for 23 straight days. My body actually still feels pretty damn good for all the hours I've spent on the field, but the one thing that is getting run down are my eyes. I can't keep these things open past 7 PM. In fact, I'm struggling to get this post published before my head hits the desk. I've received a lot of questions lately about what a day of Spring Training is like, so let me take a quick second to give you a run down of my day. Not everyday will fall exactly like this, but most of them do.

6:30 AM- Alarm clock sounds. Hit snooze
6:35 AM- Alarm clock sounds again. Drop some profanity before shutting alarm off
7:00 AM- Arrive to field to eat breakfast
8:15 AM- Early work- work on either defense, hitting, or base running (sometimes all three)
9:00 AM- Practice starts
11:30 AM- Head into clubhouse for lunch
12:30 PM- Back to field to stretch and prepare for game
1:00 PM- Nine inning game probably against the Houston Astros
4:00 PM- Game is over. Head to weight room for weight lifting session
5:00 PM- Training room to ice any sore muscles. Usually consists of drowning myself in ice tub
5:30 PM- Shower, get dressed, drive to Chic-Fil-A for snack
8:00 PM- Eat dinner
10:00 PM- Goodnight

This is the way my day has pretty much gone for most of the days down here in Florida. We have seventeen more days of camp, so it will continue like this until April 4th when we all break to head to our teams. Every now and then we will play in a night game which throws the normal routine off a bit, but almost everyday is Groundhog Day. For all the people that ask me why I never pick up my phone, haven't been great at answering their emails, or aren't writing as many blog posts, this is mostly why. I say bed time is at 10 PM, but I'm under the covers long before that each night. Once the regular season starts the hours are much better and I'll be back to doing my normal thing. Anyways, I hope everyone has a great St. Patricks Day. It is just about 8 PM and according to my daily schedule it's dinner time. Panda Express here I come! I will talk to everyone later.

P.S, I've always said I would dominate if I were to make an appearance on Dancing With The Stars. Unfortunately, I'm no star, but I can still dream can't I? Anyways, when I show up for DWTS 2023 this is the move that's going to take me to the top.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

LETS PLAY TWO...OR SIX

Hey everybody! I hope the weather is starting to warm up wherever you are, and you are starting to get that feeling that opening day is right around the corner. The weather down here in Florida has been great with the exception of maybe two days since I've been here. It really reminds me everyday that I and everyone else who voluntarily chooses to live in cold weather climates during the winters are completely nuts. One day I think I'll make Florida my home from December to May, but probably not for a few years down the road.

Over the past few days I believe I may have set some kind of Spring Training record for most innings played/viewed. On Thursday I watched and played in both split squad Major League games. The first one was played at home at 2 PM against the New York Mets. When the game ended a few of us jumped on a bus and drove an hour for our night game against the Houston Astros. Once that game ended we headed back to Viera, arriving home around midnight. The next morning we played an eighteen inning game against Team Italy. A few of my fellow countrymen noticed my last name on the back of my jersey and tried to speak some Italian with me. I think they failed to notice the "Irishness" of my skin and the fact that there was not a very good chance I was from the homeland. Anyways, today we played an intra-squad scrimmage that went twelve innings. I'm no mathematician, but I think that's something like 48 innings in three days. I know it's probably a record for me, and I'll put it up against almost all other Spring Training three day stretches. Tomorrow is back to reality as we are heading to Jupiter, Florida to take on the Florida Marlins at 1 PM, where nine innings is going to feel like a half day of school.

As far as my play goes, over the past few games I've moved around and played a couple different positions while continuing to get use to playing again. I've played my normal position of second base a few innings, played a few as the DH, and played about six innings today back at my old college position of third base. It felt really weird being back at the hot corner, but one thing I really would like to do is get more comfortable at all the infield positions. As far as my hitting goes it's been a work in progress over the past few weeks. I'm still not feeling totally comfortable at the plate like I did last Spring Training, but I didn't expect to walk right back onto a field for the first time in a year and feel like I never left. I know over the next few weeks I will keep working on things and eventually find that comfort zone that I'm looking for.

Well, I hope everyone has a great weekend, and I'm going to head out for some dinner before I hit the hay for another early morning tomorrow. These days really start to fly by when you're up early for ball and back in bed early for the next morning. Talk to you all later!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

GAME TIME

Hey guys, how are we all doing? I haven't written in a few days and there is good reason for it. I have been really, really tired. I'll tell you what. We have been working extremely hard down here in Viera, Florida over the past two weeks. I can honestly say that in my five Spring Trainings, this is the most work I've seen a team put in to date. That is one thing I really like about my new organization. We get after it. After missing a full season last year, this is exactly what I need to get my body back to getting used to the rigors of a full 162 game season.

So far this spring we've had two games. Our first game was Sunday against the Houston Astros and our second game was Monday, a scrimmage against ourselves. I've had five at-bats so far, going 0-1 in our first game as a pinch hitter, and 1-3 with a walk, stolen base, and RBI in the second game. Although I've only had a few plate appearances I can definitely feel how much more comfortable I'm getting at the plate with every at-bat. It still feels weird when I think about the fact that these at-bats are the first ones I've had in almost a full year. It is kind of amazing when I think about it. I still can't believe I missed an entire season! I guess as much as it stinks, it is part of the game, and as Forest Gump said, "Shit happens...sometimes."

One thing I have noticed is how much I forgot what kind of toll playing every single day puts on your body. We have only been practicing and playing for about fourteen or so days in a row and your body starts to get some dings and bruises right around this time. Now that games have started we spend around six to seven hours on the field each day. It doesn't seem like it would be too bad, but when most of that time is spent on your feet running around, swinging, or chasing ground balls it starts to take its toll after a while. The cold tub and I are now on a first name basis.

Well, I'll keep everyone up to date with what's going on down here over the next few days. It's only 8 PM and my nice cozy hotel bed is calling my name. I hope you all have a great week!

Friday, March 4, 2011

WINNING!!!

Hey guys, how are we all doing? I'm officially about a week or so into Spring Training and I just about have the routine down that I will continue for the next month or so. I believe our first game will be on Sunday, so I'm looking forward to getting back on the field again for the first time in a while. I hear there will be real umpires and everything! I'm pretty pumped. Anyways, over the past few days we've been practicing every morning and then facing our own pitchers to get ourselves ready for the upcoming game action. My swing is starting to come along over the last few days and I should be feeling pretty good come game time. I will be sure to let everyone know how things go on Sunday.

Now onto some other issues. In case you've been living under a rock over the past few days its official, Charlie Sheen is nuts. I try not to talk too much about other people on here, but I've gone mad watching endless clips of him telling me he's a winner. I guess if I was being paid two million dollars every sixty minute episode of my own television program I'd consider myself a winner too, but whatever. Anyways, after watching countless interviews conducted by dozens of news programs I was just stuck wondering how I would have done it differently. Check it out below.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BACK TO WORK

Hey guys! Practice has officially gotten underway here in Viera, Florida. Today was day five of practice for me and about forty five other minor league players. I wanted to take a few minutes and make it clear to everyone exactly what team I am practicing with this Spring Training because I have received a lot of emails and twitter questions asking me why I haven't played in a Major League game yet. I know the last three years many of you are used to seeing me playing in Spring Training games with the Padres, but that was because I was in Major League camp during that three year period. I was not invited to Major League camp this year with the Nationals, so I will be playing in minor league games. That doesn't mean I won't get to play in any Major League games this spring, it just means I probably won't play in very many. Our Minor League games don't start until March 19th, so we still have a good amount of time before I get into game action.

Now that I've cleared that up, lets get on to what has been happening at practice over the last week or so. About forty five players have been invited out to Minor League Spring Training about two weeks early to get a head start on things and get prepared for this season. I am really glad I was invited out here early, because it has been about a year since I've been on a field playing baseball. After the first five days of practice I can definitely tell that I am still a little rusty after not playing in so long, but it's not as big of a deal as I thought it might be. I keep forgetting that it has been almost 365 days since I've really practiced at full speed. Overall I think things have gone decently well so far. I still have some things to work on as far as my swing goes and my fielding will really start to come around as the days go on. Right now I am trying to get things feeling the same as they did last Spring Training when I was very successful until going down with the injury. The good news is I still have more than a month of training before the regular season starts, and that should be plenty of time to get things right.

Right now we are practicing for about four to five hours a day, and we just started hitting live pitching yesterday. It feels good to be back in the batter's box against an actual pitcher and not just a coach. I'm sure once we start our actual games in another few weeks it is going to really feel weird for me, but I'm looking forward to it. Things should start getting busy around here in the next few days when all the other Minor League players arrive to camp. I'll be sure to give updates with how everything is going, and I appreciate everyone checking in on me and asking how things are at camp. Well, I just got down with practice and it's time to eat some dinner. I'll talk with everyone later!