After coming off an embarrassing 9-2 loss yesterday in our final game with West Michigan, we knew that a strong showing in the opening game of this three-game series with the Burlington Bees(Kansas City affiliate) was crucial. We responded with a solid 5-3 victory behind two homeruns and strong pitching.
Today began with some pitchers and hitters meetings prior to our 1pm departure for Burlington, IA. Since Burlington is only an hour and a half away, it is a commuter trip for us, meaning that we do not stay overnight for these road games. Rather, we drive back and forth each day to and from the games. The other two cities we commute to are Clinton and Quad Cities. Personally, I am not a fan of commuter trips, and I think that is a common sentiment among my teammates. It would be different if a team was 45 minutes away, but once you start traveling over an hour, it becomes tiring and I see it as a waste of time traveling three hours roundtrip per day. Sure, there is a lot to be said about being “home” (I use that term loosely because none of us call Iowa home) and in our own beds, but leaving at 1pm for 6:30 games and getting home as late as 1am or 2am gets draining very quickly. Fortunately, we won tonight in a little over two hours, so we should be home at a reasonable time of 11pm (I am uncertain as I am writing this entry on the bus ride home.)
It was very brisk today and felt more like late fall than the middle of spring. It was around 40 degrees at game time and windy, making it feel even colder. While the cold weather forced batting practice to take place in indoor cages, the pitchers and catchers still got their early work in outside. Being from New York, I have prior experience in dealing with these conditions unlike some of my teammates from warmer climates, especially the players from the Dominican Republic. However, that is not to say that I will tell you I am comfortable in that kind of weather (even though I am wearing two pairs of socks, tights, and three undershirts under my uniform. It really comes down to mentally taking the cold aspect out of everything and just going out and doing your job. A nice feature of playing in Burlington is that there is a small heater in our dugout, which is a very nice perk.
Tomorrow we are weight lifting at 11am, and then leaving for Burlington again at 1pm. We try to lift about two days a week. The lifts are not very heavy as they are designed to keep the muscles healthy and well maintained throughout the course of the season. There is no place to get stronger during the season; that must take place during the off season.
There is hope in the forecast tomorrow with a projected high of 56 degrees and partly sunny skies. We will look to continue on our strong outing tonight, with our hitters putting a strong emphasis on being aggressive in the strike zone, contrary to our aggressiveness at all pitches as of late. That was the point of our hitting meeting today: try to see as many pitches as possible, but hit your pitch when you get it. Lately, we have been swinging at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone and giving the other team easy outs. It was evident tonight our focus had shifted to this improved approach, and we were rewarded with solid contact up and down the lineup.