Extended Spring Training is now three weeks old and I can predict beyond a shadow of a doubt the schedule for tomorrow, and the day after, and most likely the day after that.
I mentioned what the schedule is like in the last blog so I won't bore you by explaining it again; suffice it to say that the schedule hasn't changed. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
One thing the coaches have been harping on is getting into a routine and sticking to it so that our days are efficient and beneficial, and the unchanging daily schedule definitely makes this easier.
I've always been somewhat of a creature of habit, but I am really pushing it down here. I wake up every morning at 6:21 and am out the door and on my way to the field at 6:33. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day (yogurt, eggs, hash browns, and oatmeal) and do the same warm-up routine every day in the training room before heading out to the field.
You wouldn't believe the sort of havoc a routine like this wreaks on our off days. On the one day I don't have to be at the field, I'm wide-awake by 7:00 a.m. with absolutely nothing to do for the next 14 hours (it's real easy to talk myself out of anything physically strenuous on my off days – I mean, it is my only off day, and it is starting to get really hot outside).
There's only so much a person can read or watch on TV in a single day. After having such a structured week, you really feel kind of useless on Sundays with nothing to do or nowhere to be. But the off day is much needed and much appreciated.
Now that some time has passed in the season, each outing or at-bat is starting to mean a bit more. The affiliates have been playing for almost a month and some of the rosters might begin to get shuffled around, whether it's due to injuries or performance. Everything that we do down here is reported to the higher ups so each game does mean something, even if it is on a back field at a complex in Arizona.
On this note I probably had my best and worst outings as a pitcher this last week. For the first time in my pitching (also professional) career I had what would definitely be called a bad outing. I was scheduled to throw 2 innings in a game against the Royals but ended up only going 1 2/3 because I had reached my pitch count limit. I walked four batters and hit a fifth, but only gave up two runs.
It is a much different feeling having a bad outing as a pitcher than it was a hitter. Walking off the mound, especially because walks did most of the damage, I felt like I had really let the team down by not doing my part. To make it worse, I knew that I wasn't going to be back out on the mound to redeem myself for at least another couple of days.
As a hitter you get three or four chances a game to do something at the plate and even if you don't hit one day you get four more chances the next day. It was very easy as a hitter to flush a bad at-bat and get focused on playing defense or the next AB. The same can't be said for pitching.
Now I wouldn't say I dwelled on this bad outing for an extended period of time, as the next day I was back at work preparing for my next outing, but it was definitely something that was in my head. What if I can't find the zone again today? What if I walk another four hitters? Don't fall behind to the first hitter. But I can't let these negative thoughts affect me and or influence my actions.
What I noticed though is that once I'm back out on the mound all those thoughts melt away, and it becomes just another outing, just me against the hitter. I know I'm bound to have more bad outings in what is hopefully a long career, but the goal is to flush them quickly and focus on what I have to do to succeed and let the good outings outweigh the bad ones.
Follow Tim on Twitter at @TGSteggall3!
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Tim Steggall's Blog to be Named Later (4/25)
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