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Day One with the New Squad

There is inevitability in collegiate athletics, and one thing that is absolutely inevitable is that there will not be enough spots on the team for everyone that wants to be on it. This year we had five days of practice for players to prove their mettle to the coaching staff. With 40+ guys trying out this year our coaching staff decided for the first time in the program under head coach Mark “Lunch” McKenzie to do a normal cut process. After five days last week a list of 30 players was posted, and that became the new team for the 2010-11 season. There are many guys that are willing to put in the¬†work to be on the team, but the coaches have to make the decisions that will best provide us with a winning formula.

Today we practiced for the first time as the team that we will be competing with this spring. The feeling was a little lighter, people are not worried about cuts and can now use the fall for what it is intended; working on your game and earning tentative spots for the spring. These 29 guys will be my family for the next nine months. I will spend more time with my fellow teammates than I will with family, friends, and classmates. My teammates are my brothers, and these will be guys that I will remember long after my playing days are over. When it comes to playing baseball everyone has to do their job for the overall success of the team, and that can me setting aside personal issues and just being teammates.

Lunch also announced to us that for the first time in the program under his management we will have individual player meetings following the fall season. During this time players will get a definite answer to what their role is on this team as we head into the spring season of 2011. This puts on some pressure to perform in the fall, but also will give players a clear cut answer and take away a lot of that gray area surrounding position battles. With any sport though these spots are very fluid and can change, but knowing where you stand going into the spring is a great thing. It can motivate guys to work hard over the winter and push for a position in the spring, and can also let guys know that it is their spot to lose, and they need to put in the work that goes with being the starting shortstop or a weekend starter.

Today was the first day as “our team”, and just another day to work towards my goal of being a weekend starter this season. Here is a glimpse into what my day consisted of:

-Jog to centerfield and back, dynamic stretching, static stretching.
-Pitcher crossover bands and body-blade exercises
-Pitcher fielding practice working on covering first base on a ground ball to the first baseman
-Pitchers long toss out to 150 feet while dodging balls from hitters taking on-field batting practice
-Throw a 30-pitch bullpen to prepare for Wednesday’s scrimmage against Hamline University
-Run 12 jog-sprint-walks on warning track for conditioning
-Clean up the field and put the tarp on the pitcher’s mound

That is just a general idea of what a pitcher, in this case myself, does on a daily basis. College baseball is a 12-month job, and every day counts.