Minor League Journal with Chris Dennis (3/22)

The first week of Spring Training games has been interesting for Chris Dennis, as he's pitched in two games and had a couple of celebrity encounters. Lone Star Dugout has the fourth installment of this year's minor league journal with Chris Dennis.

Spring Training is crazy. It can be one of the most fun times of the year or one of the worst depending on an individual's circumstances. We just had a crazy end to our first week of games with some of the glorious highs of spring along with some lows that reared their ugly heads.

My second outing of the spring was scheduled for Friday, and I was in good spirits when I arrived to the complex. That changed quickly though, as Friday was the day of the first cuts, and unfortunately some of my friends got it. This is the unfortunate part of the spring. Everyone wants to win a job, but we really and truly hate to see guys get cut, even if we are competing against them for spots. I'm sure the coaches and Scott Servais feel about the same way about it, and I don't envy their jobs of having to tell guys that they have worked so hard with that their run with the Rangers is over.

The other unfortunate part of the releases is that heading into an outing that day, it is hard not to think about the consequences that could stem from a bad outing or two, especially in a camp with so much talent. It is definitely not the best way to think before an outing. It also didn't help that the White Sox's AA team (who I was pitching against that day) is possibly the biggest team in the minors. Every guy they had was built like Adam Dunn. They looked kinda like the Monstars from Space Jam, and the first guy I faced was the 6'4", 230 pound #8 hitter. Wow. I pulled it together, though, and put together a 1-2-3 inning. Then it was off to running and lifting and my day was over.

Saturday had a completely different dynamic about it. We went out and had a great workout in the morning, and retired to lunch at around 11 like usual. I was standing in the lunch line contemplating condiments (it was hamburgers and hot dogs that day) when someone asked me how the lunch looked. That someone happened to be Josh Hamilton. Now, I don't get star struck too often, and we get to see and even hang out with some of the big leaguers pretty regularly during Spring Training, but this was a little different for me. First, the big leaguers rarely come into our lunch room to eat, so I'm thinking he really wanted a burger that day. Second, Hamilton is no regular big leaguer. I'll spare everyone his story since I'm sure you know it by now, but because of that he is someone I really, really look up to. To battle the demons he did and come to Christ and turn his life around is an incredible accomplishment. To do that and then play the way he can play is truly unbelievable. Plus… it's Josh Hamilton!!! We talked for a bit, (great guy) and it was definitely the highlight of my day at the park. (Big accomplishment as you'll see after the rest of the journal.)

After I ate my lunch, I was walking around the clubhouse with my chest poked out like I was somebody because of the Hamilton incident. We still had some time to kill before we went back out onto the field, so we were sitting by our lockers just idly chit-chatting, and a man with longer blond hair and a very recognizable nose walked by. I swear to you, I stopped mid-sentence and asked, "Ummm… is that Owen Wilson?" My teammates were staring at him with their jaws on the ground just like I was so I took that as a yes. Apparently, Wilson is about to do a movie where he plays a pitcher, and he was in Surprise to research the role. He walked past us and into the equipment room to get some workout gear, and after he did, about thirty guys went to the big caged window to the room to see him for themselves. It was ridiculous how everyone was acting. I can only imagine what would happen if that dude walked through a room full of girls that are our age, because he sure can excite the heck out of 20-24 year old guys. Josh Lueke was the only one of us brave enough to get his picture with him, and all he got for his trouble was a picture and a locker room full of jealous guys making fun of him. We are a brutal crowd. If you do something bad or stupid, we make fun of you. If you do something good, or the coaches praise you or anything like that, then we make fun of you even more. Pretty much, if you have a pulse and are in the locker room, you probably are gonna hear it from somebody.

Sunday was a nice, quick, and easy day. Some guys got a day of rest,(no running for pitchers) while others had a light scrimmage. Since we had a quick day, Karmen and I took advantage and went to a park and hiked some trails. Lawson, on the other hand, did what most guys probably did and went home early for a nap. I think he was trying to waste some time, too, because his wife is coming in town tonight, and he was getting anxious.

Tomorrow we are back at it with a new week and two weeks to go in spring. Thank you for reading, and as always, put any questions you might have on the premium message board and I will answer them as soon as possible.

-Chris Dennis

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