How I Spent My Off-Season

It has been roughly five months since the close of the minor league regular season. With the 2015 season just around the corner, Kimberly Contreras has tracked down several of the Oakland A's minor leaguers to find out what they have been up to this off-season. This is part one of that series.

We love baseball. And this time of year, we miss it. A lot. Ok, let’s be honest. For many of us, including me, baseball is the rarely-referenced fourth basic human need according to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – along with food, shelter, and clothing. There is no group more excited for Super Bowl Sunday either. We can’t wait for it, whether or not we’re fans of the NFL. Why? Because, the very second the big game ends, it’s baseball’s turn to step up to the plate after spending too much time on deck.

In the meantime, we find ways to occupy our time and mental energy. We devour any baseball-related morsels we’re given, and depending on how deprived we feel, we’ll gladly take the whisper of a rumor and make it last for days, just so that we have something. Then again, with a brilliant, proactive general manager like Billy Beane, Oakland’s fan base doesn’t get many rumors; just action when no one expects it. Zig when they expect you to zag.

I chose to not wait for the morsels; I miss the boys, so I took matters into my own hands. I wanted to know how they’re doing, and what they’re doing this winter, so I asked. I sent questions via Twitter to more than 35 of Oakland’s minor league players – or as I call them, Baby A’s. If they follow me, then I asked. If they didn’t want to, they didn’t have to participate. Most did. Some don’t check in very often, and probably have yet to see my message.

That being said, I am so thankful for the wonderful 26 Baby A’s who took the time to respond to the 9 basic questions – and a bonus 10th. I believe most, if not all, apologized in advance for not having anything “exciting” to report. Apologies not accepted, because each one had good stuff to share. There are a couple who spent much of the season, and the off-season, rehabbing. They were (are) in Arizona reporting for rehab work, evaluations, etc. Their day-to-day activities are focused on getting back on to the field to compete again. Theirs is the most trying of assignments; they are around the game, in the facility, but cannot participate on the field. Imagine the frustration. Let’s hope the 2015 season has them back on the field playing the game they love.

Included in the group of respondents are 8 from the 2014 draft, who will be experiencing their first spring training; 8 who were drafted in 2013, 5 from the 2012 class, 3 from 2011; 1 each from 2010 & a first year NDFA. As of recent events, there are also 2 who are now members of the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

The responses will be posted in a series of 4 morsels… I mean posts.

Answers to:
1. How have you spent your off-season?
2. What has been your favorite / most fun thing to do?
3. How did you spend the holidays?
4. What are the best gifts you gave or received?
5. Did anything big happen?
6. What have you done to prepare for spring training and the season?
7. What was your favorite thing from 2014?
8. What are you looking forward to the most in 2015?
9. Any New Year’s Resolutions?
10. BONUS:
a. What phrase / motto / mantra will you use in 2015? [Spoiler Alert: these are my favorite answers!]

Name Twitter POS Draft 2014 team
Drew Granier @Drew Granier RHP 2011 - 22nd rd Midland / AFL
Jon Massad @JMassad22 RHP 2013 – 25th rd Vermont
Boog Powell @BoogPowell15 OF 2012 – 20th rd Stockton / AFL
Joe Bennie @Bennie_The_Jet2 IF/OF 2013 – 28th rd Vermont
A.J. Burke @ajburke33 RHP 2013 – 31st rd Vermont
Heath Fillmyer @HFillmyer08 RHP 2014 – 5th rd AZL
Chad Pinder @Chiwilly92 INF 2013 - Comp B Stockton
Rob Huber @RHuber16 RHP 2014 – 26th rd AZL
Derek Beasley @DBeaz25 LHP 2014 – 30th rd AZL
Daniel Robertson @D_Robertson28 SS 2012 - Comp A Stockton / Midland/ AFL
J.P. Sportman @JSport7 IF / OF 2014 – 27th rd AZL/ Vermont
Cody Stull @LHP1814 LHP 2014 – 29th rd AZL
Max Kuhn @Max_Kuhn9 C/3B 2014 – 13th rd Vermont
John Nogowski @john_nogowski8 1B 2014 – 34th rd Vermont
Seth Frankoff @Frankoff34 RHP 2010 – 27th rd Midland / Sac.
Ryan Dull @DullSnacks11 RHP 2012 – 32nd rd Midland
Daniel Gossett @DGossett23 RHP 2014 – 2nd rd Vermont
Bobby Wahl @BWahl_19 RHP 2013 – 5th rd Beloit/ Stockton
Tyler Painton @TylerPainton LHP 2014 NDFA AZL
Josh Miller @J_Mooger8 C 2013 – 23rd rd Rehab – AZL
Dillon Overton @DillOverton13 LHP 2013 – 2nd rd AZL/ Vermont
Dominique Vattuone @DomVattuone RHP 2013 – 32nd rd Beloit/ Vermont
Chris Lamb @CHLamb16 LHP 2011 – 11th rd Beloit/ Stockton
Ryan Mathews @RMath13 OF 2012 - 27th rd Beloit
Kris Hall @Big_KRIT44 RHP 2012 – 8th rd Stockton
Nick Rickles @NickRickles C 2011 – 14th rd Rehab

How have you spent your off-season?

Drew Granier: "This offseason I'm working for CB&I (Lion Copolymer – Baton Rouge) which is the leader in synthetic rubber manufacturing. I was hired on as a boilermaker which basically is a maintenance worker. I'm on shift work right now: work 8 days on, 6 off. Wake up at 4am, drive an hour to be at work by 6; work 10 hour days."

Jon Massad: "I have been spending most of my time training and getting ready for next season. I work a few baseball camps to make some extra cash but my main focus is getting in the best shape possible for the 2015 season."

 

Boog Powell: "Traveling: I went to Hawaii with my mom, dad, girlfriend, and parents’ best friends right after the Arizona Fall League ended. I also went to Las Vegas in early December for the NFR [National Finals Rodeo]. Other than that I enjoy being at home with family and friends and in Arizona with my girlfriend."

Joey Bennie: "I have spent a lot of time working out and getting ready for the upcoming season. I have also started my own baseball academy in my hometown of Stroudsburg, PA so that I can give back to the community in the best way I know how. Of course, I have also spent as much time with friends and family as I possibly could."

A.J. Burke: "This offseason I have been working for a company in downtown Portland called Portland Patrol Inc. It is a security company that works with the Portland Police Bureau (no, I wasn’t “Paul Blart”.) I would patrol around downtown on foot moving people from business doorways and citing people for open containers on the street among other things. Crazy stories, not suitable to print."

Heath Fillmyer: "My offseason has been exciting! Getting a chance to spend some real quality time with my family has been absolutely awesome! My sister Dezarae, is a big part of my life, and it was important to me that I showed her love and support when she was doing what she loves! She's a tremendous athlete who works extremely hard to perform at the level which she pushes herself to perform! I was able to see her play her last year of Division 1 Field Hockey. Went to every game on the schedule since I got home. Including the all-important final game of her collegiate career. Sad day to say the least! But I’ am so very proud of her and grateful I was there! She deserves all the credit for all of her success.

Other things include: hunting, watching hockey, football, and watching highlights of baseball on MLB Network! Spent time with all my best friends, enjoyed the holidays, trained/training hard! Starting our throwing program which is always exciting considering the anticipation of the off time!  Other than that I'm really big into doing spontaneous things!"

Chad Pinder: "I went back to school for a semester to try and get closer to my degree.  I recently just moved to Charleston, SC and plan to continue my offseason workouts here!"

Rob Huber: "I currently work part time for the Seven Loaves Food Pantry in Plano Texas at my church St. Andrews Christ United Methodist. I have been doing some traveling, first going back to Duke for a senior guys baseball reunion for everyone that graduated. I also just got back from San Francisco for New Years. My brother and I visited my cousins for a great change of pace from the normal routine at home."

Derek Beasley: "This offseason I have been doing pitching lessons with local kids. I have also helped with two baseball camps. One camp I participated in was to help raise money for a friend of mine who just found out he has cancer. It was a great camp and was very special to be a part of."

Daniel Robertson: "I love traveling. Went to Cabo with my family for a week over New Years and lost my phone."

JP Sportman: "Right after instructs, I flew down to Tallahassee, FL to visit my guys Jose Brizuela and John Nogowski (both Florida State Seminoles) and we went to the FSU vs. Notre Dame football game. My offseason job has been giving lessons to kids in all age groups. Aside from that, I’ve been training and relaxing at home in NY."

Cody Stull: "I am working a part time job at Dicks Sporting Goods as a retail associate in the Bikes/Fitness and in the Team Sports departments. I am also working at a local baseball facility in North Carolina called The Athletic Barn, where I work in the pro shop and help with camps and provide lessons."

Max Kuhn: "I returned to Lexington, KY and prepared for the upcoming season at the University of Kentucky’s training facilities. I am also working part time with Bone Dry Roofing, one of the top roofing companies in the nation. I really enjoy working there; great employees; great people. I also work at local baseball facility called Champions Sports."

John Nogowski: "I’ve been working with kids in the off season by giving batting lessons. I’ve also seen a few future A’s, but no 1st basemen. [no competition needed.] I really enjoy hunting in the off-season, too. While it’s mostly for deer, I also hunt doves, ducks, and quail."

Seth Frankoff: "After driving home to NC from Sacramento at the end of the season I spent most of September and October in my hometown of Apex, NC working out and working (teaching baseball lessons and working a day camp at an indoor baseball facility in my hometown). For the month of November and first week of December I played for Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican winter league. After coming home for a week I traveled to Valencia, Venezuela to play for the Magallanes Navigantes. I was there starting in the middle of December and just got home from Venezuela on the 6th of January."

Ryan Dull: "This offseason has been pretty eventful for me so far. I have been in a wedding and went to a few weddings. College basketball has always been something I've enjoyed watching. I just went to the Duke vs. Wake Forest game and I will be in attendance for the Duke vs. UVA game in a few weeks. I have also been working at the training facility I went to in high school. I have been helping out high schoolers with their throwing program and giving them advice on mechanics and helping them with their arm care. "

Daniel Gossett: "Spend time with friends and family, training to get ready for next season."

Bobby Wahl: "For the most part just lived at home in Virginia. I have been working at a local baseball facility giving lessons from time to time. I have not done a ton of traveling."

Tyler Painton: "So far much of this off season I have put a lot of my focus on finishing up some schooling.  I am now 3 classes away from a degree from Oregon State University. #GoBeavs.  I have taken up a couple other jobs to help out the family with being a substitute teacher and also giving pitching lessons when I have some free time.  It has been a shock to be back in my high school where I was not very many years ago, but as a teacher.  I have a lot of fun with it though and it has been a great learning experience for me."

Josh Miller: "This offseason I participated in the rehab program for my shoulder."

Dillon Overton: "This offseason I've pretty much been hunting any chance I get, which is almost every day. I have set myself up to go back to school in a class that starts this month."

Dom Vattuone: "This offseason almost felt like it was moving in slow motion. I was so anxious to get back out on the field playing with this new arm slot of mine. As for a off season job, I am giving pitching lessons as well as working at the Sunglass Hut. I used to work there during my JUCO days and figured I would get hired quickly since I was already in their system. "

Chris Lamb: "Working out and preparing for the upcoming season has dominated my off season. I have also volunteered coaching youth baseball, studied probability and computer programming, and spent time with my family."

Ryan Mathews: "In the fall I coached one of the Purpose Driven Baseball (Emo also helps coach within this organization as well) high school travel ball teams. I also work/train at an indoor facility called The Performance Academy (TPA) in Apex, NC, just outside of Raleigh. There I give individual lessons, run baseball hitting and fielding clinics, occasionally work track out camps, and as of a month or two ago I actually do the cleaning of the facility. TPA is also where I do my weight lifting, conditioning, hitting, fielding, etc. for my own training in the off season. "

Kris Hall: "I've had a great off season. Been able to travel quite a bit and see family and friends all over the country. Been down in Jacksonville for the most part. Working and giving lessons to earn a few bucks here training in the warm weather."

Nick Rickles: "This off-season, hmm, honestly I didn't have much of an "off-season". Since my surgery I've have been rehabbing everyday, working out and trying to get stronger to be break with a team and be healthier/stronger than ever. Yes, it's been a long road but it all feels more that worth it with the feelings of strength so far. I've accumulated about 1 month since February home to visit my dad in South Carolina and my I'm in Florida and it was awesome!"

What has been your favorite / most fun thing to do?

Drew Granier: "Haven't done a whole lot but work but I plan on going to a few New Orleans Pelicans games. I usually go to at least one Saints game but never got around to it. I didn't miss much by their terrible record. LOL. But just being with family and friends has been fun since I’ve been home."

Jon Massad: "When we finished last year I spent all of September and a few weeks of October in Cape Cod. It was nice to relax, do some fishing and hang out with family and friends."

Boog Powell: "My favorite thing I did this off season was probably just going over to my best friends’ house, BBQ'ing and spending time with him and my 2 other friends."

Joey Bennie: "My most favorite/fun part of this offseason has to be visiting my family in Virginia and visiting my Goddaughter Sophia in Delaware. I love being around my family as much as possible."

AJ Burke: "My favorite thing this whole offseason has been hanging out with my now seven month old daughter. It has been so much fun to see her grow up right in front of my eyes."

Heath Fillmyer: "Favorite: I would say attending hockey games! Of course they have to be the Philadelphia Flyers! Huge fan, enjoy it very much!"

Chad Pinder: "My favorite things this offseason has been being able to spend the holidays with my family."

Rob Huber: "Traveling back to Durham and visiting all the guys that graduated with me on the baseball team for a weekend. It was great catching up on what they were doing."

Derek Beasley: "I love spending time with my family. I am the oldest of four, and all my siblings are very active in sports. There is never a dull moment in the Beasley household, so there is always some fun to be had."

Daniel Robertson: "Besides being with my family, definitely the trip to Cabo for a week has been the highlight of my off-season thus far."

JP Sportman: "Favorite/ most fun thing to do this off-season was probably reconnecting with some friends I have not seen in awhile from my hometown. And also being able to go back up to CCSU and see some of my old teammates, coaches, and friends.

I also got to spend NYE with the most beautiful girl in the world her name is Samantha."

Cody Stull: "Most fun things to do in the off-season is to hang out and catch up with old college and high school friends, going to concerts and karaoke nights. "

Max Kuhn: "I had a lot of fun this off-season so there isn’t one particular thing that really stood out. I was able to spend a lot of time with my girlfriend who attends UK and also plays softball there. It was awesome to catch up/work out with friends and former teammates as we really motivated each other to get ready for the 2015 season. I was able to go to Arkansas with Dad to duck hunt which is always a ton of fun. Then going to the Louisville Slugger Museum was fun as well to see the whole bat making process."

John Nogowski: "I would have to say getting to spend time with my girlfriend, family and friends. Not seeing them for months at a time gets tough."

Seth Frankoff: "The most fun part of my offseason has been spending time with my wife, dog, and family as I have spent quite a bit of time away from them playing winter ball in two different countries."

Ryan Dull: "The basketball games will be the most fun for me this offseason. It gives me the opportunity to spend time with my family and allows me to go see some friends I haven't been able to see since college."

Daniel Gossett: "Training; I get anxious when I don’t do anything so being able to train helps put my mind at ease."

Bobby Wahl: "I would say spending the holidays with my family and friends. It's always a special time of the year."

Tyler Painton: "My favorite thing about the off-season is hands down my mother's home-cooked meals.  Being away at school the past 3 years then signing professionally this last year I have truly missed the home cooked meals that I used to get every night.  It sure beats eating hot pockets and PB&J's for every meal."

Josh Miller: "The coolest thing about this offseason is probably having the opportunity to be working out and spending so much time at the field with the trainers and staff to get healthier."

Dillon Overton: "My most favorite/fun thing to do this off-season has got to be hunting. Mainly because of all my rehab from last off-season I did not get to come home but a couple of times. So I never got to hunt at all last year. So this off-season I have taken full advantage of it."

Dom Vattuone: "My favorite thing to do this offseason was to help my younger brother reach out to potential schools to transfer to. He attends the same junior college I went to (Harford Community College). So I set up his emails, videos, as well as guide him in what to say back to responding schools. Each day I’d wake up and ask him who emailed him back."

Chris Lamb: "My favorite off season activity is watching TV as a family after dinner. We’ve watched Newsroom, Boardwalk Empire, and Homeland."

Ryan Mathews: "As for a crazy story - I'm originally from Orlando but in the offseason I like to work and train in Raleigh, which means finding somewhere to live for the 6 month offseason. I actually started off this off-season staying in my friends garage, in a tent on an air mattress. I liked to liked to say I was hybrid camping, I could open the garage and be outside or close it and be inside. Jay Stott, the guy I work with for Purpose Driven Baseball found out where I was living and said I needed a home. He ended up setting me up with a really awesome host family, which has been a great blessing."

 

Kris Hall: "I have two! I got to go to Minnesota with my family for Christmas to visit my awesome family that I haven't seen in awhile. I also caught a 8ft blue marlin off the coast of San Diego with my Dad and Grandpa Jim and Grandma Myrna. Those are my top 2 favorites."

Nick Rickles: "So far my favorite part of my so called "off-season" was being able to go home and see my brother and parents. However second to that is the things I've been able to do while spending my time rehabbing in Arizona. I've climbed South Mountain a few times, floated down Salt River and have a gotten a few tattoos here's and there and just for fun decided to grow a beard haha :)"


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