Baseball is a really funny industry as a minor leaguer, because very little is communicated to you about your career. Coming into spring training I had no idea where the Phillies were planning to start me. I was hoping for Reading because it was the next step on the ladder, but if there is one thing I have learned in my two-and-a-half short years in professional baseball is that there are no guarantees.
Now, one thing you should know is that Phillies Spring Training is no joke. I think you would be hard pressed to find a more physically demanding camp, but if there is one out there it does not top ours by much. So just trying to prepare for that, outside of getting ready for the season, can be emotionally exhausting, but I set out in the off-season to come into camp ready to survive, keeping in mind that the season is a long, grueling grind. Since this is just a brief overview I won't go into the specifics of spring training, but I can tell you it is the longest 30 days of every minor leaguers season without question.
As camp was winding down I started to get the feeling that I was going to Double-A Reading for a chance at the next level. Needless to say, I was excited for a new challenge and the opportunity to face great competition. When I arrived in Reading I would say that I felt a mixture of excitement and nerves that I think all athletes go through, especially to start a new season. The biggest challenge though is just setting up your life. You are planted in a foreign city and you have three days to find a place to live, places to eat, transportation and prepare for the season, so it can be a stressful 72 hours, but we manage.
We had a an exhibition game but the real test was opening night and I was probably as excited for a baseball game as I had been in a very long time. All that excitement and energy led to 0-for-4 but it was great to get that first game out of the way and get back to "business" so to say. I was able to relax and begin to hit over the next couple of weeks, which gave me the confidence I needed to trust myself at the Double-A level. I absolutely loved the chemistry of that team and it showed as we were having a lot of success through the first-half. Now, like I mentioned before if anyone has specific questions about my time in Double-A, I welcome them for future entries, but in the interest of time I am going to move on to my promotion to Lehigh Valley and thus the reason for the title.
An Old Beginning is meaningful to me for a few reasons. First, this is the second mid-season promotion for me in two years and that can be tough. You try to set up some semblance of a life for yourself wherever you go and after a few short months just when I was beginning to get comfortable I was uprooted and moved. Although this is exactly what you want as a young player it's still difficult moving, getting to know a new coaching staff and meeting and trying to show your new teammates that you're a good guy and that you can play the game at their level. Second, I am notoriously a slow starter and I have been my entire career so every time I go somewhere new I want to avoid my early swoon but no matter what I do, it seems to be an inevitability for me. The glass half-full side of me wants to say it keeps me focused but the realist side screams 'start fast', but that's not how this game works so I just try to work myself out of the holes I so quickly dig myself into lol (my first emoticon, why not its a blog?)
Triple-A has been a great experience overall. In just a few short weeks I have learned so much about the game just from being around and listening to the veterans in the clubhouse. You think you are learning and picking up things on your own along the way but I have quickly realized that I know very little if anything about the game in comparison to the guys with multiple years in the big leagues and Triple-A. It's been very cool for me to not only learn from these guys, but also get to meet Pedro Martinez and face a lot of guys I've watched on TV growing up. It was the right move for me because I have just learned so much about myself and the game in just three weeks that otherwise may have gone untapped if i stayed in my comfort zone.
So, to close this first entry I'll say thank you for taking the time to read some of my thoughts. I hope that you enjoyed this little introduction and I look forward to answering your questions in the future and sharing more of my pro ball experiences with anyone who wants to read. Thank you again.
If you would like to send questions or comments to Michael Taylor, he can be reached via e-mail at: MTaylor@PhillyBaseballNews.com. Michael will try to answer as many questions as possible from readers.