That's it. My 2011 season officially ended and I'm back home sitting on my sofa trying to find something to do. For the last six months I've basically been at work every single day from 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM, traveled on buses and planes for hours at a time, roamed from hotel to hotel, and eaten enough Chipotle to kill a small horse. Things will be a little different for me over the next six months, except for the Chipotle part. I'll probably only go four times a week instead of the usual seven. Life feels so different when you don't have somewhere to be every single day at a certain time. For now I will rest up my body from the grind of seven straight months of baseball, but as the weeks go by I will begin to work out more intensely and begin preparing for the 2012 season.
Since I've returned home many people have asked how my season went, what I thought about my performance, and what's in store for next year. Since I've got some spare time, I figured now would be a good time to sit down and reflect on the 2011 season.
To start things off, the year didn't begin the way I had originally envisioned when I arrived at Spring Training. With a week to go in camp I strained my left hamstring causing me to miss the first month of the year. After going through the last two years injured with San Diego this obviously wasn't the start I was hoping for with my new team, but it turned out only being a slight bump in the road along the way.
When I was healthy enough to return to the playing field around the beginning of May, I was sent to Double-A to play in the Eastern League for the Harrisburg Senators. It was going to be my first time playing in Double-A since 2007. When I first heard I was heading to AA instead of AAA I wasn't thrilled, but after being out of baseball for more than a year you never know exactly what's going to happen when you return. I was new to the organization and they didn't really know exactly what I was able to do on the field, so heading to AA and showing I could still be successful was what I needed to do. Turns out my stay in Pennsylvania was short. After playing four games I was called into our manager's office and told I was heading up to Syracuse, New York, to play for our Triple-A team.
My first two weeks in Syracuse I was rotating with a few players and basically starting about three to four games a week. Again, things didn't start exactly how I was hoping, but after a few weeks I started to hit well and eventually stuck in the starting lineup. One of my most exciting parts of the year came about two months after arriving in New York when I was named to the International League All-Star Team. It was my second time being named to an all-star team in my career, and the first time making it at the Triple-A level. Looking back at the way the season started for me I would never have guessed I would have the opportunity to be an all-star, but sometimes things turn out better than you expected.
The last two months of the season moved faster than any season I've ever experienced in the past. Two months honestly felt like two weeks, and before I know it the "dog days of August" were in the rear view mirror and my final game of the 2011 season was upon us. The end of this season was a little different for me from past years. Because I signed a one year contract with the Nationals the possibility of me being with a different team next Spring Training is much higher than in the past. Throughout my career I've been a part of many great teams and made friendships that will last much longer than my baseball career will. This year's team was one of my favorites to be a part of. Entering the year with a new organization for the first time in five years I wasn't sure what to expect, but I honestly couldn't have been luckier landing with the team that I did.
I'm not sure what this off-season will bring, but I am really excited to build on this past year and improve in all areas of my game. I was able to do a lot of things on the field this year that I wasn't given the opportunity to do in the past. For one, I played four positions throughout the year. The majority of my playing time came at third base where I really hadn't spent much time since my college days at Wake Forest. I played a decent amount of games at my natural position of second base and played about fifteen games at short stop. I hadn't played a game at short stop since high school back in 2003. I also had the chance to play the outfield for the first time in my life. I believe I played about five games or so in left field and I must say it's pretty damn fun. As far as the batting lineup goes I think I hit in every position, and I was able to finish the last week of the season hitting in the 3-hole, which was fun for my ego. I've always been an on-base type hitter who hits in the leadoff or 2-hole, so hitting in the third spot at least made me feel like I had some power, even if it was only for a week. This was another part of why I enjoyed myself so much this season. I was able to do so many things that I was never able to do during my five previous seasons. Playing a bunch of different positions and hitting all over the lineup kept things fresh and exciting throughout the year.
I want to thank everyone that kept up with the blog, came out to the stadium to watch us play, and wished me luck throughout the season. I'm not sure what uniform I will be in come March of next year but I know it will be another fun season full of unexpected twists and turns, and hopefully I will be able to achieve my goal of getting back in a Major League uniform. Thanks again!