Long Day

Today we began a three-game road trip in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was asked by someone to go into detail about what a “typical” day is for me. As a preface, I will say that our “typical” days are dependent upon three things: whether we are at home or on the road; if we need to travel to get to the game; and, if the game is an early afternoon or night game. So, I will try to do a timeline for the various situations to give everyone an idea of the various days we may have.

3:50am – Wake up. Our bus departure time is 5am, and that is the actual time our bus will leave, if not a few minutes earlier. So, I am leaving the house at 4:10 to put me at the stadium by 4:20. This allows me to load my stuff onto the bus with plenty of time because if “we are ten minutes early, we are five minutes late.” That phrase was instilled in us from the first day of spring training.

4:20am – Arrive at stadium. I arrive at the stadium with my travel bags and pack my uniforms and personal baseball laundry from our previous game on Tuesday that was washed for us. Our clubby (equipment manager) washes all of our baseball clothes for us, including our uniforms and our personal items like socks, undershirts, sliders, etc.

5:00am – Depart for Fort Wayne, IN. We embark on our three-game road trip and I am exhausted at this point since I only got about three hours of sleep the night before. I am still trying to determine which situation is worse: having to travel this early to an away game and playing the same night, or traveling all night to get home and playing the following day (which we will do when we leave on Sunday night, arrive in Cedar Rapids Monday morning and play Monday evening.)

12:30pm – Arrive at hotel in Fort Wayne. I will note that all times listed are local times. Cedar Rapids is in the Central time zone and we lost an hour coming into the Eastern time zone in Indiana. I do my best trying to get more sleep on the seven-hour bus ride, but sleeping on the bus is very difficult. I hate the long road trips; being on the bus for extended periods is the worst part of being on the road.

The bus is a big motor coach that has almost enough room for all of the players to get two seats to themselves. I am fortunate to be a catcher in this sense as it is almost an unwritten rule that catchers get two seats to themselves. Sleeping is difficult for me if I do not lie horizontally, so the sleep I am able to get on the bus is some dozing here and there. Some teammates resort to sleeping on the floor under the seats and in the aisles, but I have not been able to bring myself to lie on the bus floor.

I bring my bags up to my room to drop them off. We are staying at an Econolodge and it is surprisingly the best hotel we have stayed at this season, aside from the Radisson in Dallas we stayed at when our flight was cancelled during our travels from spring training to Cedar Rapids. We have until 2pm to leave for the field, which leaves just enough time for food or a nap, but unfortunately, not both.

12:45pm – Eat lunch. Food has won out over sleep. A major thing I have learned in my short stint of minor league baseball is that you eat when you can and sleep when you can. But, since we are playing at 6pm, I am going to need food to hold me over for a while. Fortunately, our hotel is in a location in close walking proximity to some restaurants, and I walk across the street to eat at Cracker Barrel with one of our pitchers.

2:00pm – Bus leaves for stadium. Game time is 6pm, which is earlier than the typical 6:30 or 7pm evening start times. On the road, we usually arrive at the field four or five hours prior to game time. As if today has not been already crazy enough, there are strong storms in the forecast, so the uncertainty of pregame prep and the game itself are in question.

2:30pm – Pitchers and catchers on the field. Pitchers and catchers warm up and stretch, then go through their throwing programs and pitchers get their side work in off the mounds. Starting pitchers will play catch the day after a start, throw a short bullpen the second day, throw a long bullpen the third day, play catch the fourth day, and pitch on the fifth day. Relief pitchers throw when they want to on the side so they can stay fresh with their mechanics.

3:30pm – Pitchers and catchers meeting. Before every series, the pitchers, catchers, and staff meet to go over the opposing hitters we will be facing. We run through the opposing roster to see if anyone has information on hitters from playing with or against them in the past. Some of the things we discuss regarding hitters are tendencies, pitch location preference (inside vs. outside), and aggressiveness. While we use this information to determine how certain hitters will be pitched to, we will still pitch mainly according to our philosophy we have been using since spring training.

4:00pm – Batting practice. I could have called this pseudo-batting practice because the on-field batting practice was cancelled because of rain. Some stadiums have indoor cages, which are helpful for these situations; however, Fort Wayne does not. So, we wait until the rain stops and take some swings in the outdoor cage.

4:45pm – Final clubhouse preparations. I change out of my practice uniform and put on the game uniform. Before every game, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, and cookies are put out, and I make sure to take advantage of another opportunity to eat.

5:15pm – Pregame. I warm up and stretch for the second time today with the position players, as we all get ready for the game starting shortly. I am not starting tonight so my pregame routine is rather basic, but I will detail my pregame routine in a later entry.

6:00pm – Game. I take notes on the opposing hitters as the game goes on. Tonight, our other non-starting catcher is the designated hitter, so I am on bullpen duty by myself and have to warm up the relievers when needed. We played a decent game tonight but lost a tough one 7-5.

8:45pm – Postgame meeting. The staff discusses the game and we go over things that we did well, and things that we could have done better. After this meeting, we shower and get on the bus to head back to the hotel.

9:45pm – Arrive at hotel and go to dinner. The early 6pm start time definitely helps the problem that we usually have on the road with trying to find restaurants open after games. Sometimes we get lucky, finish early, and can get to a restaurant before they close, or sometimes we play games like the 14-inning affair we had at Burlington and finish very late. This is when it is especially beneficial to be around restaurants that are open 24 hours (Denny’s, IHOP, Steak ‘n Shake; yes, gourmet delicacies, I know). Tonight, a few of us walk a few minutes down the street to IHOP and we eat dinner around 10pm. This road trip will be tolerable, but once we are on the road for seven or eight days at a time, I get sick of eating out all of the time at odd hours.

11:00pm – Arrive at hotel. The day has finally ended, but it was not without a quick trip to the convenient store next to the hotel to get some ice cream for dessert. I have a huge thing for ice cream, and one of my teammates has dubbed me “snacks” because of all the food and candy I always have with me.

What began almost 20 hours ago is now just a blur; one day in a schedule of many. Tomorrow will start another game day cycle with our bus leaving for the field at 11:45am for a 4pm game. Now, it is time to catch up on some needed sleep so I can be ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

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One Response to “Long Day”

  1. phil Says:

    What specific exercises and warm up drills should a youth catcher do prior to a game and after a game? TY

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