And we’re off. I compose this post as I travel north to Rancho Cucamonga, California. A few days ago, I was assigned to our Class A-Advanced affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes of the California League. Getting team assignments can be a bittersweet day; some people are placed where they were expecting to go, while others are placed at a lower level than they were expecting. However, there is always the possibility of getting released, which was the unfortunate fate of about ten players this year on this second “cut-day.” This day takes a somber tone as some former teammates are headed home and people are sometimes left wondering, “Why?”
The process is simple. The rosters are waiting on the bulletin boards at the complex that day next to the daily schedule and various other notices, and you search for your name. Your name is on one of the four minor league affiliates, the extended spring training list, or not at all. In the case of the latter, you know that your time with the organization is finished, and there is a note taped to your locker “see Abe” ([Flores], minor league director). You stop by his office, get an explanation, and then pack your things for your trip home.
But, for those that survive, business continues as usual and we finish out the rest of the spring training schedule and prepare to report to our affiliates. That brings me to today, which involved getting all of my things on the 6:30am bus over to the complex so we could leave immediately following our 9:00am game. We are bussing (or driving if you have a car or ride with a teammate) to Rancho, while the Cedar Rapids and Arkansas affiliates have Monday morning flights (Salt Lake has alternate arrangements that vary as well).
It will be nice to have a change of scenery in California (and enjoy some added moisture in the air). I took a brief escape from the hotel and baseball on Thursday night with a trip to the Phoenix Coyotes hockey game. Leave it to me to find the only sheet of frozen water in the desert, but I did. My close friends know that I am very big into hockey and follow it closely. But, it was good to get away from the field and see something other than a red and white ball.
Ironically, I ended up sitting behind the clubhouse manager for the Great Falls Voyagers (Pioneer League Advanced Rookie affiliate of the Chicago White Sox). We ended up talking for a bit and I learned he has been the “clubbie” in Great Falls for over 20 years. The conversation was split between the present, as well as recollecting the 2007 Pioneer League Championship. That Championship involved the Orem Owlz (the team I played on my first year of pro ball) and the Great Falls White Sox (before their 2008 name change). We ended up winning game two 3-2 in 16 innings to clinch the series and complete the upset of the favored White Sox. This was just another instance that you never know who you are going to come across in your travels.
This concludes the posts from Arizona. Hopefully, I will not be making any from this state until next year. While spring training was long and tiring, it was constructive and beneficial. The season will begin on the foundation of habits that have been drilled into us for the past few weeks with the idea that work has only just begun.