Back to the minors
Posted by Justin Masterson March 10, 2008 10:50 AM
What a week it has been. For me it has been a week that was jam packed with visitors. I had my father and brother come down from home. I had a buddy from college come down. And I also had my friend and his wife come down. And yes this was all at the same time, in a single house. You can see where most of my time was spent when I was not on the field trying to better my skills in the baseball realm.
This week was different than most weeks, not in how it began, but more so in how it ended and where I find myself on this beautiful morning. I was able to throw in two games this week. Two innings in both of them. And though I'm not in midseason form, thankfully since season is still a few weeks away, I was satisfied with my outings. The second was better than the first, which is always a plus. I threw two innings against the Marlins after a nice two-and-a-half hour bus ride across Florida. Buses were not made for a man of my stature (6-foot-6), but I did my best to squeeze into the seats and the make the most of the opportunity I had.
My next outing came against the Twins, another two-inning stint, which proved to be good. No runs and only one hit. It wasn't a perfect outing but it's keeping me right on track to be on top of my game when April 3 rolls around.
Yet the unfortunate turn that took place this week was something that I knew was coming very soon, but did not make it any better. It turns out that my time in major league camp was over and I was destined to return to minor league camp to continue to work on my skills. And though I knew it was coming, going into the meeting with John Farrell, Terry Francona, and Theo Epstien was no music to my ears. No one wants to hear that they have to leave, even if you are not the only one.
It did leave me desiring more, but it did not change how I will go about what I need to do. I am track with where I want to be and the rest is in God's hands. But the nice thing is that I get to be with some of my good friends and together we can work to make our way to the big leagues, whether it be this year or the next, it will happen. Sorry I don't have a great story of some event for this week, but just watch the Red Sox this year and you will see a story so thoughtful it could only be done by one author who looking down from above. Until next time ...
It's game time
Posted by Jed Lowrie February 29, 2008 5:55 PM
With the first week of camp in the books, it's time to move over to the big stadium, City of Palms Park. This is where real spring training starts -- the games.
During the first week, workouts seem to blend together. The variance of events doesn't exist, but it helps to get settled back into baseball. We stretch at 9:30 a.m., but for most of us the day starts much earlier. Some lift, some hit and some just read the newspaper. I showed up at 7:30, never early enough to beat Dustin Pedroia to the field, but I always felt like I was just behind him. After getting changed I headed straight to the dining room to get a hot breakfast and read the newspaper. By the time 9:30 stretch came around I had rode the bike, hit in the cage and taken groundballs with Louis Alicea. So, the 9:30 stretch for me was more of a formality.
Our days consisted most of fundamentals; throwing, fielding, bunt defense, relays from the outfield and run downs. We would split up onto two fields for our fundamentals, veterans on one field and the young guys on the other. I split my time on both fields. One day on the veteran field "the Collision" happened during run downs. Some players from mini camp come over to simulate base runners. We had a run down between first and second, Youk threw me the ball and I began to pursue the runner, David Mailman. The only problem was Mailman stopped, I tried to avoid the collision by jumping to the side, but no such thing happened. Neither of us was hurt and I'm now under the belief that it looked much worse than it really was. The best part of the story was yet to come.
After our workout at least 10 reporters came to my locker to ask about "the Collision". While I was answering questions all I could think was, "It must be a slow news day today."
We're starting our spring games now. Getting back out there is exciting; it breaks up the monotony of workouts. The first game of spring is always the hardest. It doesn't matter how many groundballs you take or how many swings in batting practice you take, the games are more intense. With the first week of workouts in the books it's game time.
What a great week!
Posted by Justin Masterson February 29, 2008 10:38 AM
As I lay in bed in the small two-bedroom house that my wife and I are renting for our time down here in Fort Myers, I think of how great a week it has been. We had our first exhibition games Thursday night against two college teams but I will hit on those a little later. This week has been jam packed with fun and excitement even before the opportunity to finally throw in an actual game with fielders behind me.
If you are wondering what goes on when we are not at the field, well, usually a whole lot of nothing (Ha ha!). With games starting, our days become much longer, but the last couple of weeks, we have worked hard in the morning and then have had freedom throughout the rest of the day, which is a time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate for the next day.
But this week there were a couple of events that went on, for starters a charity golf outing, which I was a part of. Unfortunately I had not played golf in quite some time and knew that my game would not be up to par, but I was really hoping just not to embarrass myself in front of the rest of my foursome. I played with three really nice people who were slightly competitive and had some good ability, which made the day fun, because a long day it was. Long story short, I started off terrible but slowly figured the game out, and in the scramble format we actually used quite a few of my shots. But what a great opportunity it was to meet some new faces and be humbled before the start of the season.
Yet the day was not yet over, because our baseball chaplain was able to score us some tickets to a Casting Crowns concert that same night. So my wife and I went from the golf to the concert, which was uplifting and absolutely amazing. But what a day that began at 6:45 in the morning and didn't end till close to midnight, only to begin early again the next morning.
I've been asked many times what the biggest difference is between minor and major league camps, and I respond the same way every time: Major league camp is much more laid back and gives you an opportunity to get a lot more quality work in while allowing you to gain quality advice from the veteran players who were once on the same road I am on now. But another difference is the media and the fans. There are a lot more media and a whole lot more fans who get there bright and early and stay all day yearning for autographs as the players exit the field after our workouts.
Most days I try and sign for everyone but some days it's just not possible because of the work that still has to be done. I hear whispers of people trying to figure out who I am as I sign their ball.
Now we've arrived at the peak, the pinnacle, the climax, at least for this week: The first day of exhibition games. And what a beautiful day it was on Thursday, being in the upper 60s with a slight breeze. The first game was a blowout by us against Boston College, and the second game (6 p.m. start) is where I got my first start against Northeastern. It was a long day's wait of playing a little guitar and doing some reading trying to find something to waste my time until I went on the field. But I was feeling great and had a great time when the hour finally arrived. I got out there, threw my two innings (Editor's note: He gave up no runs and one hit, striking out one) and was desiring more. I didn't even feel like I had dipped my toe in the water yet to see if it was warm or cold. Was it perfection? No, but it was great being out on the mound in front of the crowd with my peers in the field, everyone just enjoying the moment and being appreciative for the breath that they have.
It's been fun getting to know more and more the likes of Jason Varitek, Doug Mirabelli, Mike Timlin, Kyle Snyder, and so many more, especially Sean Casey, whom I had watched many years while in Cincy. He is just a quality guy, and it's nice to be a young guy and see a vet like him continue to show such kindness but also quality on the field.
I hope this has given you a little more insight on my week, I bet you wish you could be a part of it and enjoy this as I am. I thank the Lord for his blessings. Until next time ...
Excited for what's to come
Posted by Justin Masterson February 21, 2008 08:22 AM
Warm weather! That's the very first thing that excited me about getting down to Fort Myers. I had spend most of my off season in the cold, snowy weather. But now it was time for baseball to start and let me tell you, it's not very fun when you have to throw indoors to get your arm ready to go. But the second exciting thing about coming down to Fort Myers was the fact that I was being invited to my first of hopefully many big league spring trainings.
The neat thing about spring training and baseball in general is that there is only so much diversity that comes in the daily routine. The biggest difference between major and minor league camp is simple: There are actually fans and media at the major league camp. Aside from that, things are very similar, especially in the fact that for pitchers, we do tons and tons of PFPs -- pitchers fielding practice -- which is not too difficult but can wear you down when you have much smaller groups to work with in big league camp.
Having been a fan of baseball my whole life, it's very interesting to have an opportunity to see all the veteran players. This is such a great way to gain more knowledge and wisdom about the game. And not only seeing these guys on the field, but seeing who they truly are and what they are really about both on and off the field. So far I've been nothing but impressed with everyone who is in camp, both at who they are and how hard they work.
It's a wonderful opportunity that the Lord has given me with the ability to play baseball. I am feeling healthy and excited about what this year has to come. I hope that in the weeks to come I can give a little insight on the days of spring training, and I will apologize now if it happens to seem like Groundhog day, because it very well might.
Thank you and God Bless, until next time...
It all leads up to now ...
Posted by Jed Lowrie February 21, 2008 07:48 AM
Official report day is Thursday, although I have been in Fort Myers for nearly a week. I have heard there is no such thing as an offseason. Let me be one to tell you of that truth for a professional baseball player. The last game of the season is the day I begin to prepare for the next, but my preparation comes in many different forms. All of which leads up to Thursday.
My season ended in the middle of November, after the completion of the Arizona Fall League. That gave me three months, roughly, to prepare for Thursday. After 160 games your body needs time to rest and recoup, all part of the preparation. I spent most of November and December in Arizona golfing and relaxing with friends while keeping an eye on the house I'm buying. Oregon was my destination for the holiday season to see my family. Shortly thereafter, I headed to Boston for the rookie development program, which ended up being two of the most productive weeks both physically and mentally. The Saddlebrook Resort outside of Tampa is where the last push was made leading to now. I trained at the Athlete's Compound at Saddlebrook, where every workout and meal was prepared for my specific needs. A short drive from Tampa to Ft. Myers and I was settled into my new home for spring training.
I got invited to big league spring training for the first time this year, although I have played in close to 20 spring games in my first two years. Pitchers and catchers reported the 14th; I worked out for the first time in Ft. Myers on Saturday the 16th. The first week, being that any position player there was early, is a more relaxed environment. After a couple of days of relaxed batting practice and ground balls the fans and video cameras were in greater numbers with the addition of David Ortiz and Mike Lowell on Wednesday. There were a lot of distractions and the entire roster had not yet arrived, just more practice to hone my focus while going through the repetitions.
Being it is my first big league spring training, it will be hard to resist the urge to try and impress everyone I see. While first impressions are important, and in no way would I try to offend someone, my focus is on preparing myself for the regular season. My main focus now is finding my routines, both on and off field that will carry me through the season. If ever I take myself too seriously all I have to do is look at the name on the front of my jersey or the players around me to realize how blessed I am to play the game that I love.
Thursday is official report day, but it is only the start to what will become of 2008.
about the diaries
Red Sox prospects Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie share their thoughts about spending their spring with the big club. Look for new diary entries from each player once a week. Special thanks to the Globe's Amalie Benjamin.