Xavier Scruggs: The cage and the fans

St. Louis Cardinals Double-A first baseman Xavier Scruggs is back with news from Springfield.

After a really rough series at Northwest Arkansas, I'm looking forward to being back home in Springfield and getting back to work in the cage. The cage is where most of my preparations for the game are done. I work on my swing by hitting off the tee, having our hitting coach flip me balls, and seeing live batting practice. The saying is "practice makes perfect", but even the best hitters in this game fail over half of the time at the plate.

Practice and repetition are the most important things for a hitter to be successful. For most of us, it does not come natural. Most players can't just roll out of bed and go 4-for-4; that's why we work on our swing in the cage. Personally, it's something I have to do each and every day. I'm working to improve my swing and approach at the plate constantly.

The cages in Springfield are located in a huge indoor facility behind right field. We are so fortunate to have a large area to get work done. The indoor facility is clean, air conditioned and includes a turf layout. Every stadium has cages, but none of them are as nice and as spacious as Springfield's.

It's a place where the hitters can just relax and just talk about anything. If you were a fly on the wall in the cage, you would hear a variety of conversations with most of them having nothing to do with baseball or hitting. You would hear hitters talking about women, religion, fashion, food, books, social media, and music. That's just to name a few. While the bullpen is where most of the pitchers get to gather and discuss non-relevant topics, the cage is the position players' area to do the same.

As much fun as it can be in the cage with my teammates, often I like to be in there alone. When I am alone, it allows me enjoy the silence and focus a little extra on the drill or tee work I'm trying to accomplish. I get to enjoy just hearing the sound of my Old Hickory bats smacking the ball and echoing in the cage. I've said it once before that the Old Hickory bats have a different sound to them and they are the best wood out there, in my opinion.

Anyway, there are usually multiple times before the game starts when I like to hit in the cage. I like to hit off the tee before we take our team batting practice on the field. I also like to hit always 30 minutes before the game starts - just to get loose. After that, it is time to head out to the field and sign autographs for the fans if I have time.

Fans. That is another subject by itself. Here in Springfield, we are lucky because we have a great fan base. They come out and support every home game and most of the time they fill our big stadium. It is really something special being able to play in front of thousands of screaming fans. Often time fans from our home stadium will take pictures of the players and have us sign them. The least we can do is sign autographs for the great fans that support us.

Sometimes fans get disappointed when we aren't able to sign things for them, but I think it's important for them to remember that sometimes the players are so focused on preparing for the game that we bypass signing autographs. I try to sign before and after the games because it really is my way of saying ‘thanks for the support.' Also I know that maybe there is one person out there that can be motivated or can be touched by me signing for them.

I can tell you one thing that a lot of the players dislike is when a fan thinks they are entitled to a free bat, ball or glove. We also find it a little disrespectful when a fan doesn't say ‘please' or ‘thank you' when asking for or receiving an autograph. Just like they don't want us to be rude to them, we don't want them to be rude towards us. We players enjoy fans, especially the positive ones. So hopefully none of you are that annoying fan that yells obscenities and rude comments at the players. Keep it classy.

I've enjoyed talking about two of my favorite topics in baseball - the batting cage and fans.

As the season is coming to an end, we are hoping to clinch a playoff berth very soon. All the players are excited about finishing strong and continuing to improve. Hopefully by this time next week, I'll be able to let you know of we have secured that playoff spot.

Thanks for reading and God bless.

Follow me on twitter @Xavier_Scruggs.

Link to my earlier reports from the regular season, spring training and winter ball in Colombia.

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