After winning two of our first three series of the second half (we split the other), we headed into tonight’s opener against Quad Cities (St. Louis affiliate) with heightened optimism and a share of the divisional lead. Quad Cities, located in Davenport, IA, is a commuter trip, and is even more undesirable after getting home at 2am last night from Beloit. We had to take batting practice and do bullpens at our stadium because of a high school game in Quad Cities prior to ours, so we were on the field at 2pm this afternoon and left for Davenport at 4pm.
Tonight’s game was a sloppy start for us with two errors costing us two early runs. However, we kept ourselves in the game and were able to manage a 7-4 win. I had my second start in three days, and although it took me until my third at-bat, I was able to find my swing after two early groundouts and finished the night with two hits. Most importantly though, I was able to catch a winner.
I write this post as we make the 75-minute trip back west to Cedar Rapids and am expecting to be home by midnight, just in time to find something to eat. Last week I receive an email asking me to discuss our auxiliary staff. Aside from our manager and hitting and pitching coaches, we have three other staff members: an athletic trainer, a strength and conditioning coach, and our equipment manager.
Our athletic trainer’s main responsibility is to look out for the welfare of players, whether it is battles with injury or illness. He is the first link in the medical chain and makes the initial assessment that will determine the treatment for a player. Minor injuries can be handled “in-house”, meaning that treatment and rehab can be done with the team, even if it requires a short stint on the 7-day disabled list. However, for more serious problems, a team doctor may be called in (these are usually local doctors in the cities we play in) to get another medical opinion. After this examination and discussion with Angels’ medical and professional staffs a decision may be made to send a player to Tempe, AZ to rehab and bring a healthy player in to take his place. Whatever the injury or illness, everything is communicated back to the minor league headquarters in Tempe, nightly so that the entire organization is aware of the health of all players.
The strength and conditioning coach has the role of making sure the players are maintaining body strength and health throughout the grind of a 140 game season. Some of these responsibilities include (but definitely not limited to) leading players through stretching before afternoon workouts, stretching players individually prior to games, administering agility exercises and conditioning workouts, and coordinating a lifting schedule and overseeing player lifts. The goal of lifting during the season is not to get stronger, but to maintain the strength that was developed during the offseason. Maintenance lifting is designed to keep muscles healthy and the body flexible in an effort to prevent injury (commonly known as “prehab”).
It is likely that the thankless job on the team belongs to the equipment manager. Although, we know for sure that our sixty-something equipment manager, Roady, loves his job because he has been at it for over 30 years and dresses up every night in uniform to aid the bat boys retrieving bats and foul balls. Some of his many responsibilities include: washing our uniforms and personals (this is not our personal laundry like jeans and polo shirts, but the shorts, sliders, undershirts, etc. that we wear everyday); distributing bats; making sure there are enough balls around for that day’s activities; cleaning the clubhouse; putting out the daily spreads (food); organize the loading of the bus on road trips and, pretty much anything else needed by the players and staff. He has a tough job and the players sometimes give him a hard time, but he does not hesitate to give it right back. We look at Roady sometimes as a grandfather, but I do not know of too many grandfathers who will put up with a bunch of teenagers and twenty-something’s on a daily basis. While he is not one to avoid conflict with players, things would not run as smoothly as they do during the season without the long hours he puts in.
As I wrap this up, I want to thank the people who have expressed their interest in the blog and encourage people to keep sending me emails with topic suggestions. This is as much for the fans’ knowledge as it is for me to have a written record of my thoughts throughout the season. Again, thank you to everyone who has been reading and I hope everyone is finding this to be as useful as I have.