Interview With Texas Rangers Minor Leaguer Michael Schlact

Michael Schlact is a pitcher in the Texas Rangers system.  Last season, his third in the Texas League, he underwent surgery for tears in his rotator cuff and labrum.  We met up on Twitter a few weeks ago, and he was willing to answer a few questions about the mental and physical aspects of the rehab process.

I found a description of your injury in a previous interview. How did you know you were injured? Is this the sort of injury where you feel some discomfort and it ends up being serious, or was it obviously bad from the start?

There were times over the past few years where I felt some arm fatigue, but nothing pain-wise.  My first start of last year, I felt something painful while throwing a slider, and that’s when I knew something was really wrong.

Did you try to pitch or work through it before deciding on surgery?

We tried to rehab my shoulder first.  It was something that the Rangers medical staff and I determined would be more beneficial than going right ahead for surgery.

How supportive have the Rangers been throughout your rehab?

They have been there for me every step of the way.  The medical team the Rangers have on board is great.  Being able to rehab with such knowledgeable people makes the process that much easier.

How has your rehab schedule progressed? For instance, how does a typical day of work in September 2009 compare to a typical day in March 2010?

A typical day in September of 2009 was range of motion exercises, rotator cuff strengthening, light leg workouts, and lots and lots of running.  March 2010 workouts are almost typical of what I have done my entire career.  There are a few exercises or lifts that I can’t do because they are overhead exercises, but other than that, I’m good to go!

What has been the toughest part of coming back?

The toughest part of coming back is the isolation you feel.  Being in Arizona rehabbing while your teammates are out winning ballgames and actually playing is tough.  When baseball is yanked from under you, it kind of hits home.  I went through a very tough period last summer when I realized that my season was over.  Working out and doing shoulder exercises just to get stronger and not to pitch can be very tough!

You were a sinker-slider-fastball pitcher before the injury, right? Will you continue to use all the pitches you did before, or are you changing your repertoire to reduce strain on your shoulder?

I was a sinker, slider, change guy before the injury.  I have pitched with that repertoire for a long time.  There is no reason to change it just because of my injury.  Mechanics more likely caused strain on my shoulder.

You tweeted last week about your return to the mound. What did that session entail?

It was 20 pitches off a short mound.  A short mound is the same distance to home, but the incline of the mound is half of a regulation MLB mound.  I threw all fastballs, and really just worked on the mental side of it.  Trusting my stuff, understanding that I have done enough so that my shoulder won’t hurt anymore, and to start shaking the rust off.

When the time comes to really cut loose, how do you push aside that little voice in the back of your head that says, “Are you sure you really want to do that?”

I think self-talk.  I am a self-talker out there on the mound anyways.  When I hear that little voice (not crazy I promise) I will tell myself out loud what I really want to do.  For instance, if that little voice says, “Are you sure you really want to let it go?” I’ll say (into my glove), “Alright Michael, let’s go.  Trust your stuff, trust your mechanics.  You’re ok.”

How do you think it will feel, the first time you step back onto the mound in a real live game?

It’s going to be the best feeling.  It’s like a new beginning for me.  So many things that I have taken for granted the past years will be soaked in.  Each minute I am out there will be cherished.  I’m going to do my absolute best, give it my all, have fun, and see what happens!


Strasburg Optioned To Double-A Harrisburg

Stephen Strasburg was the Washington Nationals’ best pitcher this spring. In nine innings, he had a 2.00 ERA (both runs coming on solo homeruns) and a 12-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Despite that, and a recent outing in which he struck out eight Cardinals in four innings, the Nationals optioned Strasburg to Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday.  There are two possible reasons as to why: one, starting him in the minors and keeping him there for awhile delays his arbitration and saves money in the long run, and two, getting him a few professional starts in the relative quiet of the Eastern League will allow him to gain experience and work on his weaknesses before being unleashed on the National League.

About two weeks ago, I wondered about Harrisburg’s schedule should Strasburg end up there. Here are the road dates again through the end of June:

April 8-11 @ Altoona
April 12-14 @ Bowie
April 22-25 @ New Britain
April 26-28 @ Reading
May 10-12 @ Altoona
May 21-23 @ Akron
May 28-31 @ Erie
June 1-3 @ Richmond
June 8-10 @ Altoona
June 15-17 @ New Britain
June 18-20 @ Bowie
June 28-30 @ Portland

Will I be watching the matchups and considering a trip to New Britain in April (it’s only 2 1/2 hours away)? Sure, why not? I could probably get to two of the four games if need be, so it can’t be ruled out. Aside from that, the people of Harrisburg will have something to look forward to for at least a few weeks.

Strasburg might be joined in Harrisburg by fellow first-round pick Drew Storen.  Storen was also sent to minor league camp on Saturday, but the news report didn’t say where he would begin.  In his professional debut last season, Storen saved nine games in ten appearances for the Senators after stops at Hagerstown (Low A) and Potomac (High A).

Seeing Strasburg and Paying the Cost

Sorry I am little late in writing this, but did you know The Battle of New Orleans took place two weeks after The War of 1812 ended?

What do you mean, that was 200 years ago?

Last Sunday on a gorgeous day in sunny Viera, Florida, I saw “The Next BIG Thing” Stephen Strasburg make his second spring start as the Nationals squared off against the St. Louis Cardinals. I was impressed as were the Cardinals.

To be honest, I was a bit surprised by Strasburg’s wind-up. Having never seen him pitch before, I pictured him as more of a straight up and down, standing tall pitcher – a la Mark Prior – but his wind-up reminded me a bit of David Cone, except with only one arm angle.

Unfortunately, the Capital City Messiah only pitched three innings. Then the Nationals featured a litany of has-beens, never-will-bes, and future insurance salesmen. The only names I recognized were Livan Hernandez and Ron Villone.

Of course, the Nationals lost.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t mind. As cliche as this sounds, I was there to have a good time. I met up with fellow BusLeagues writer Will, made friends with the Nats Tiki, heckled Mitchell Boggs of the Cardinals, saw former Mets manager Davey Johnson (now working with the Nationals in some capacity), bought a cheeseburger, almost met Mark Zuckerman of, talked blues with a random stranger, and saw people wearing some awesome jerseys, to include a Don Drysdale, an Ozzie Smith, a George Foster, a Johnny Bench, and one that just said “Funk”.

Unfortunately (yes, again), my day at the ballpark almost didn’t happen. Even though I was told there were plenty of seats inside Space Coast Stadium, there were no tickets being sold outside the ballpark.

That’s right, it was a sell-out.

Thank you, Mr. Strasburg.

Fortunately (again), I found someone scalping a ticket. 30 bucks for a 17 dollar seat! For a spring training game! Where the main attraction is only in 1/6 of the action!

I am seeing this more and more every spring. When I was a kid growing up in Central Florida, I used to be able to go to the ballpark right before a game and buy a seat in the bleachers for less than 10 bucks. Now the only team you can do that with is the Pirates.

I know it makes me seem old and crotchety, and maybe I am, but I miss those spring training days. Before teams realized they could capitalize on spring match-ups. Before tickets were 30 dollars each (as they are to see the Yankees).

Before the dark times. Before The Empire.

Interview With Former Minor Leaguer Garrett Broshuis

On the heels of last week’s retirement announcement, I asked Garrett Broshuis a few questions about what went into the decision, what it meant to go out on a high note, and what comes next.

First of all, congratulations on your spectacular failure to become a major leaguer. This isn’t a Brett Favre style retirement, is it? You’re not gonna show up in a month with an “aw shucks” smile and a shrug and be like, “Changed my mind!” Are you?

Well, funny you ask that. After further consideration, I’ve decided to (drumroll please)…stay retired. Actually I did just visit our minor league spring training complex a few days ago. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, but I was just there to visit teammates. I gave a few hugs, shook some hands, offered face-to-face “thank you”s and left. What’s odd is that it didn’t even really feel odd to be there.

Seriously, though, the decision to retire couldn’t have been an easy one. What was the mental process behind the decision, from the end of last season up to Tuesday?

Really I started having thoughts during the season, which is never good. My wife had surgery and I was stuck in A ball at 27-year-old. Then I went up to AAA for one start before being shuffled back to AA. That was probably the turning point, where the thoughts really set in.

There were a lot of sleepless nights during the second half of the season. I played this one song by the Shins over and over again to the point where I thought I was going crazy. (In reality I probably was slightly crazy.) I didn’t actually make the decision though until around a month or so ago.

Who did you tell first? Did they or anyone else try to talk you out of it?

Well, I guess I told my mom and my wife first, but then I had to make the actual phone call to the Giants’ organization. I called up Bobby Evans while I was watching my wife do an indoor triathlon (talk about boring). He seemed a little surprised. They were willing to give me my release if I wanted to try to play with another organization, but I told him it was time to move on.

I talked to a few other coaches as well. Almost all of them told me that I made the right decision. They consistently said that too many players hold on for too long. The game wraps itself around you. It’s difficult to escape its web.

After talking with them, I was confident I’d made the right decision. After all, who wants a soft-throwing, aging righty anyways?

After a rough 2007 season in which you appear to have pitched well but couldn’t buy a win, you bounced back with solid seasons in 2008 and 2009. How important was it to you that your career end on a strong note?

Wow, that was an agonizing year. There were about 17 different moments that I wanted to take a bat to the Gatorade cooler and the Port-a-Potty.

It would’ve been very easy to just give up after my 2007 season, but I kept my head held high and used it as motivation. I re-dedicated myself to working as hard as I’d ever worked. I made a few adjustments. I heightened my focus a bit and had a very solid 2008 season. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of in my baseball career (other than pinch-running once and sliding without breaking my neck). I persisted through rough times and didn’t give up.

What comes next? I’ve seen mention of law school, and you’ve shown obvious concern for the way players are treated in the minors – could a second career as a sports agent be in the cards?

So yeah, I’m going to be entering another competitive, challenging field. I visited a law school the other day and looked around me. It’s a totally different world. Instead of talking about the break on a slider or a game of “Call of Duty”, everybody was talking about their LSAT scores and the amount of time they spent in the library. But hey, I have a little nerdiness in me that’s been suppressed for too long. Time to cultivate it a bit.

As for the agent thing, I’m going to be helping my own agent out while in school. I want to explore some other things as well, but baseball has been too large a part of my life to completely turn my back on it.

Do you plan on continuing your writing with Baseball America and your blog? I for one think we could use a good, thoughtful perspective on what a ballplayer goes through after retirement.

I’m definitely going to keep writing. There are some issues that I think still need to be brought to light, and so I’m going to do my best to illuminate them.

It might be hard to always find time to write, but it’s like going to the gym for me. I just have to set aside an hour or two and do it. I enjoy it too much to not do it. And Baseball America has been great. They’ve told me to keep pitching ideas to them, and they’d love to have ’em.

Thanks for the time, Garrett, and good luck!

Red Sox Prospect Westmoreland To Have Brain Surgery

By now, of course, you’ve heard the news that Red Sox minor leaguer Ryan Westmoreland, the team’s top prospect according to Baseball America, has been diagnosed with a cavernous malformation in his brain and will undergo surgery next Tuesday.’s Jonathan Mayo gave a brief explanation of the malady and how it applies to Westmoreland:

A cavernous malformation is a vascular issue which, according to an audio report on the Mayo Clinic Web site, is a group of “abnormal, thin-walled blood vessels.” Typically, cavernous malformations don’t cause symptoms and are often only discovered if doctors are looking for something else via a brain MRI exam.

If the malformation bleeds, it can cause stroke-like symptoms, seizures, numbness, vision changes or other neurological problems.

“Typically, a stroke might be more dramatic, while symptoms from a cavernous malformation come on more gradually,” Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon Dr. David Piepgras said in the audio report. “Most people who have cavernous malformations, we can’t tell them why they occur.”

While the severity of Westmoreland’s condition is unknown, it was serious enough to require surgery. The course of treatment is often just observation, with surgery becoming an option if symptoms persist.

For what it’s worth, noted sports injury writer Will Carroll is refraining from comment until he can talk to those who have a better handle on this type of illness.

Westmoreland, who turns 20-years-old on April 27, is a five-tool player who has struggled to stay healthy since the Red Sox made him their fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft.  A Rhode Island native, he debuted with the Lowell Spinners in the New York-Penn League in 2009, hitting .296 with 7 homeruns, 35 RBI, and 19 stolen bases in 60 games before a broken collarbone finished his season.

I missed Westmoreland in Lowell, but was looking forward to seeing him when he got to Double-A Portland in the next year or two.  While I obviously still hope to see him play someday, I’m more concerned with seeing him come through the surgery okay and resume a healthy life.

Westmoreland isn’t the first young Red Sox player to experience serious health issues (although I’m drawing a blank on recent years – UPDATE: Did I forget about Jon Lester?  Why yes, yes I did).  Rookie Jimmy Piersall was hospitalized in 1952, subjected to electroshock therapy, and ultimately diagnosed with bipolar disorder; three years later, second-year player Harry Agganis, a local boy who starred in football at Boston University, died of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 26; and 22-year-old Tony Conigliaro was hit in the face with a pitch in 1967, severely damaging what could have been a Hall of Fame career.

On the bright side, both Piersall and Conigliaro overcame their difficulties, returning to the field and performing well (Piersall made two All-Star teams and won two Gold Gloves; Conigliaro hit 36 homeruns and drove in 116 runs in 1970).  I’m hoping for the same for Westmoreland.

Garrett Broshuis Is Hangin’ Em up

“I’ve spent a few weeks thinking of a clever way of announcing my retirement,” Garrett Broshuis wrote on his blog on Tuesday, and with that, he did.

Broshuis was a talented pitcher, good enough to win 54 games in a six-year career that twice brushed Triple-A and confident enough to rebound from a 3-17 record in 2007 to finish 13-9 in 2008.  He is also a talented writer, as luck would have it, capable of humorously recapping the exploits of Madison Bumgarner or thoughtfully discussing the idea of HGH testing in minor league baseball.  In the latter capacity, he was able to provide fans with an uncommon insight into the life of a minor league baseball player.

In announcing his retirement from the game, Broshuis chose to thank those who had helped him along the way:

It seems odd to write a thank you while admitting failure, but that is what I am doing. I failed to reach my goal, and so in essence I am thanking the very people who not only allowed but assisted my failings. Yet I’m of the belief that there is still beauty in coming up just short, even if the beauty is of a different hue than the ultimate gratification of success. The process is the same even if the end result greatly differs. I’ve loved every minute of this process, even the lowest of lows.

Broshuis really has a phenomenal opportunity here.  While I was always interested to read his thoughts during his time as an active player, I might be even more interested to read about the life of a newly retired player.  Even someone as young (he’s just 28) and with as much going for him as Broshuis (I believe he is applying to law school) is sure to have some feelings of loss as he goes through that first summer without baseball.

Bus Leagues will still continue to follow Broshuis on Twitter, and maybe even email him from time to time, but I want to take the opportunity now to wish him the best of luck in whatever he chooses to do.

Thoughts On The Baseball America Prospect Lists

If you’ve spent more than five minutes reading this site, you probably know that I rely heavily on Baseball America’s prospect lists. One of the many things I looked at after buying this year’s Prospect Handbook was last year’s Top 30 list for every team – actually, the Top Ten – and where they ended up in 2010. Each of those 300 players fit into one of five categories. In order of frequency:

Deceased: 1 (0.3%) – Nick Adenhart, the Angels’ top preseason prospect, was killed in a car accident in April.

Dropped Out: 14 (4.7%) – Washington’s Esmailyn Gonzalez, a 19-year-old shortstop prospect who was the organization’s 10th best prospect in 2009, turned out to be 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez.

Traded: 28 (9.3%) – The only number one prospect traded in the offseason was New York’s Austin Jackson, who went to Detroit as part of the Curtis Granderson deal. This number does not reflect trades that occurred after Baseball America’s book went to press, such as the Roy Halladay deal.

Majors: 59 (19.7%) – The number one prospects for twelve teams played enough major league ball to lose prospect eligibility.

Re-ranked: 198 (66%) – This is the number of top ten prospects re-ranked anywhere in the top thirty, not just those who earned another spot in the top ten.

The most surprising number to me was the 4.7% that dropped off the list entirely.  Like many people, I think of the guys in the top ten as untouchables, guaranteed successes at the major league level.  On some level, I always knew that that wasn’t true, but seeing it as an actual number drove the point home.  On the other hand, an average of two players from every team spent significant time in the majors.

The Strasburg Era has begun

It seems like this day has taken forever to come. With all the hype at San Diego State, his performance at the Olympics in 2008, Steven Strasburg finally made his major league debut.

Like every 21-year-old making his debut, there were definitely some jitters on the mound to be expected. Strasburg fell behind in the count 2-0 against the first two hitters he faced. Fortunately for him those hitters were Austin Jackson and Clete Thomas who grounded out.

The second inning came and Strasburg appeared to settle down, striking out Miguel Cabrera with an amazing 98 MPH fastball after throwing two knee buckling curveballs to set up the pitch. Remember that because it’s going to be a trivia question someday and you’ll impress all your friends with that kind of knowledge.

I’m not going to go crazy over Steven Strasburg yet, just because he pitched two shutout innings in a spring training game. He did struggle with location throwing only 3 more strikes than balls, and only started 2 batters with first pitch strikes. Are the Nationals going to rush him through the minor leagues or even crazier put him in the starting rotation at the beginning of the season?

Since the beginning of the MLB draft there have been 10 pitchers that were thrown directly onto starting rosters without starting off in the minors. Those pitchers hold a combined record of 523-660. Mike Morgan leads that list with 141 wins , but is mostly known for giving up Mark McGwire’s 61st homer (another trivia question answer).  I’m in no way comparing Strasburg to Mike Morgan, Jim Abbott or any of the other pitchers on that list. He is an amazing talent with skies the limit potential, but he still has a lot of work to do before becoming a dominating pitcher in the majors.

I’m really hoping that the Nationals decide to take their time with this guy, let him go down to Harrisburg or Syracuse at least until the roster expands to 40 men later in the year. I’m not just saying this because I want to see him in Rochester a few times or even bite the bullet and drive the hour to Syracuse, although that would be nice. The list of highly touted pitchers that have been rushed to the majors and failed is high, and hopefully the Nationals won’t add Strasburg to that list…… hopefully.

Interview With Birmingham Barons Clubhouse Manager Jeff Perro

Last week, Birmingham Barons clubhouse manager Jeff Perro contacted me on Twitter (@MiLBClubbie) to ask if I would be interested in doing an interview with him for Bus Leagues. Of course I was, especially since his job is an important one that we don’t often think about (and he was willing to answer my questions via email).

Where have you worked? How long have you worked at each place?

My first job in baseball was being a bat boy for the independent Mobile BaySharks of the Texas-Louisiana League during the summer before my senior year in high school, 1995. The BaySharks dissolved the following year and the Mobile BayBears were born the following year. A few members of the BaySharks front office moved over to the BayBears and I was able to go to work for them while I was going to college at the University of South Alabama. Before Hank Aaron Stadium was built, the team had a gift shop in the mall with their front offices set up in the back of the store. I worked there. Once the stadium was built and the team began play, I did a little of everything. I worked in the gift shop, sold tickets, walked up and down aisles selling sodas, washed dishes in the Stadium Club, etc. I did that for the two seasons, 1997 and 1998.

When, why, and how did you become a clubbie?

I was going to school for a Sports and Event Marketing degree. I wanted to graduate and work in the front office of a minor league baseball team. Things happened in my personal life that made be have to quit school. I also had to leave Mobile and move to the much smaller town of Anniston, Alabama, about an hour east of Birmingham. There was no professional baseball in Anniston, so I pretty much left it behind and began a career in the restaurant business. During the spring of 2001 I had the itch to get back into baseball. I didn’t have a degree, so working in a MiLB front office was out of the question. I’d heard of Clubhouse Managers and had met the BayBears Clubhouse Manager a few times, but I didn’t really know what they did. I sent out a mass email to pretty much any MiLB team that I could find an email address for, probably 60-80 teams, asking them what a Clubhouse Manager was and how to get into it. The VERY NEXT day, I received an email that basically said, “We need a Home Clubhouse Manager now. Can you interview ASAP?” I read the email before I even read who it was from. I figured it was from some far away team like Billings, Colorado Springs, or Richmond, but it was from the BIRMINGHAM BARONS!!! The team right down the road. I interviewed a few days later and was handed a set of keys!!

I only worked that one season with the Barons, the restaurant business kept throwing more money, benefits, and such to keep me with them. I built myself a nice little career in the biz over the next few years and was quite successful. I got the baseball itch again the fall of 2007. At that time, I was living in Clarksville, TN. The Winter Meetings were being held that winter in Nashville. I saw it as my chance, even a SIGN, perhaps. I interviewed with seven teams and was offered three jobs. The best offer was from the San Francisco Giants to work with their Low-A team, the Augusta GreenJackets. The deciding factor was that I got to travel with the team!! I got to see 140 games that year in almost all of the ballparks in the South Atlantic League. The Birmingham Barons knew that I was back in the game. They offered me my old job back. I originally declined, but things happened in life that made it apparent that I needed to be closer to home, which by then was Lafayette, LA. I accepted, had a fantastic season in a fantastic city, and now I’ve permanently (or at least for a while) made Birmingham my home.

Where are you from originally?

I’ve moved around quite a bit but I was raised in Arlington, TX. My family had season tickets to the Texas Rangers from 1987-1992, that’s where I fell in love with baseball. My dad lived in Huntsville and my grandfather lived in Birmingham, that’s where I fell in love with MINOR LEAGUE baseball.

What are your responsibilities as a clubbie?

My responsibilities include catering or preparing the pre- and post-game spreads, ordering bats and balls when needed, lots and lots of filthy laundry, vacuuming the clubhouse, taking out the trash, filling and refilling the water and Powerade coolers for the bench and bullpen, loading and unloading the bus, packing for the road trips, bringing umpires the game balls before the game, unpacking from the road trips (one of my least favorite parts), cleaning players shoes, occasional Red Bull runs, bringing the pass list to the ticket guy, sending and receiving player mail, cleaning the bathrooms and showers, getting autographs for our front office for sponsors and such, issuing uniforms and hats to new players….um…..I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

What is an average day like? What do you do during games?

I work a 16-hour day for a typical 7:05 game, usually around 10am until about 2am. When the team is at home I sleep at the stadium on the clubhouse couch. It just seems like a waste of time and sleep to spend a few more minutes in my car to drive back and forth. The Regions Park clubhouse is GREAT for sleep though!!

I wake up around 10:00 in the morning. I move any towels that I may have left washing overnight to the dryer. I then go to our food area and get my shopping list together for the day. I’m responsible for everything from fruit and lunch meat to shampoo and plastic forks. If I can get to the grocery store or Sam’s by 11:00 I’m in good shape. By good shape, I mean I can sit down for a few minutes and enjoy a little lunch break. Otherwise it’s just fast food. I usually get back to the stadium and unload my carful of groceries by 1:00. By then our manager, trainer and strength coach have arrived. I check the mail, then I have to load my three coolers in a shopping cart to get ice upstairs, fill the water and Powerade coolers, and lug them out to the dugout and bullpen. By the time I’m done, I’m soaking wet and the team is beginning to arrive. Guys who have early work and pitchers who have conditioning usually start popping in around 2:00.

While they’re getting dressed, watching TV, or playing cards or ping pong, I’m folding towels. On paper, I kind of have down time between towels and when the team goes out to BP, but things pop up. Sometimes I misplace uniform parts, guys “need” something shipped home immediately, washer machines breakdown, friends have autograph requests, players get promoted and demoted, guys want new hats. When the team goes out to batting practice I start getting the pregame spread ready and maybe make some time to hangout in the dugout. I pretty much put out the same stuff everyday: lunch meat, tuna or chicken salad, fruit, chips and crackers, a few sweets. Every now and then I’ll cook ravioli, soup or chili too. The team comes in to eat and game time, I have a few things to do. I start the laundry from batting practice, bring seeds and gum to the bench, check on the umpires, bring up the pass list, restock the coolers, make sure the bat boys have arrived, and clean up the pregame spread, among other things. The team will leave the clubhouse by 6:30 for the 7:05 game. In that little between time I pick up around the clubhouse, change any trash bags that are full, hang some of the BP laundry and either start cooking the postgame spread or call and verify that whichever restaurant is catering it hasn’t forgotten about us. Once I get that stuff done, I can usually go down to the dugout and watch the 2nd and 3rd innings. Then it’s time to finish up the BP laundry. If I’m cooking the postgame spread, I spend most of the rest of the game in the kitchen. If it’s being delivered or I have to pick it up, I spend the next couple innings pacing back and forth and stressing out about the meal being on time!! Dinner is hopefully ready to go by the top of the 8th inning. I have to separate some out for the umpires and for our coaches. The coaches have their own plates and get served separately from the team because they have a lot to do after the game, I’d hate for everything to be eaten by the time they get to it!!

I’m usually in the dugout when the game is over (10:00ish). I bring in the coolers and make sure nothing was left on the bench. I try to hurry so I can get inside and collect laundry, soaking the filthy stuff, and getting it the washers rolling. Every second that I spend waiting to start the washers is another second that I’m going to be working that night!! When the guys start to slowly leave the clubhouse I start cleaning shoes. Cleaning shoes takes about an hour to an hour and a half and I’ll be constantly checking on laundry, moving stuff to the dryer, starting new loads, and organizing stuff to be hung. After I’m done with shoes I clean up the post game spread, take out the trash, and start vacuuming…still keeping the laundry moving. It takes about an hour to vacuum the spacious Regions Park clubhouse, by the time I’m done it’s around 12-12:30. Hanging the laundry takes another 30-45 minutes. It’s just picking up a little and tying up loose ends from there. I bring the umps tomorrow’s game balls and restock their cooler, get tomorrow’s pass list ready, and throw my back up sodas and bottled waters into the fridge for tomorrow. I want to have all the towels in the dryer before I hit the lights and get comfy on the clubhouse couch!!

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

The best part of my job is the people!! Sure there are some jerks, but 95% of the people I’ve met are great or at least interesting people. I think fans and the media sometimes forget that ballplayers are people too. They see them as numbers for their fantasy teams, baseball cards or autographs to be sold, or as guys to be dissected through sabermetrics. These guys all have different personalities and life stories and it’s so much fun to find out new stuff!! I’ve travelled a lot in my life and so have they, I enjoy talking about places we’ve been and people we know.

The worst part of my job is definitely the OFFSEASON!! This offseason has been extra brutal. I’ve been making sandwiches, taking deliveries and doing marketing for a sandwich shop Monday – Friday during the day and flipping burgers at another restaurant at night and on weekends. I’m still getting used to the 60% pay cut I took to come back to baseball. I underestimated how much money I’d need to get by and had to get a second job at the end of November.

What are your career goals?

My goal would be to get a year round clubbie job at some team’s spring training site, or at least find something to do in baseball that’s year round. Something that keeps me from flipping burgers 4-5 months a year!!!

Do you keep in touch with any players or coaches you’ve worked with in the past?

I keep in touch with a few. Ask the players and they’ll pretty much tell you that when you spend 6-8 months with each other and have few days off, the last thing you wanna do is talk to a guy in December. It’s sad but true. It’s also weird to me that it seems like I haven’t so much kept in touch with guys that I thought I would, but I DO keep in touch with guys that I wouldn’t expect. Facebook or MySpace are great ways that we can kinda keep in touch, but not be “in your face” with it also.

Who was the nicest player you’ve dealt with? Who was the biggest jerk?

Jeez…. I feel like if I name my favorites, I’ll leave somebody out!!! As far as the biggest jerk, I think he knows who he is!!! I will say this, big bonus guys, top prospects and stars seem to get the reputation usually as being arrogant, stuck up, or high maintenance. I’m gonna go on the record as saying that is untrue. Arrogance and moodiness, as well as humility and friendliness, are spread evenly across the roster. Some of my favorites have been the big names and the non-prospects. Some of my least favorites were also big names and non-prospects.

I kinda wanna name names, but I don’t.

Don’t want to get you fired, so without naming names, tell me about some of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scene.

There’s so many stories. I’m sitting here thinking, but if I told most of the “juicy” ones, it’d be pretty obvious who I was talking about. I’ve seen a couple fistfights and minor scuffles in clubhouses. I’ve seen guys get released and cry, I’ve seen guys get “the call to The Show” and cry.

Still thinking…

Some off the most interesting memories that I have are ones that I wouldn’t call “crazy,” but “interesting.” We had a guy get off to a slow start one season. One game in late April-mid May he hit 3 home runs and he started to heat up. About a month later he decided professional baseball wasn’t for him and he retired. It’s hard to describe, but it’s just one of those things that few people remember and even fewer care about, but I was there for it.

Kangaroo court is always fun too.

Ok, here’s a great story for you! One of the players is somebody that people who follow baseball would know. The other two people involved are players that people who follow minor league baseball prospects would know. Relatively big names. “Player A” broke his bat…and it was CORKED!!! Cork flew onto the field, “Player A” was ejected, and the umpires confiscated to bat remains and locked it in their clubhouse. Two of the pitchers from that team decided that the best thing to do would be to steal the bat back so that maybe “Player A” would not be suspended. They bugged me and bugged me to unlock the ump’s clubhouse, let them steal it, then lock it back. I knew that if I got implicated in this scheme at all, I could possibly be fired and blackballed from the game. I gave them a firm, “Hell no, not a chance,” and went back to the kitchen to finish the postgame spread. 15 minutes or so later I went back into the clubhouse and found “Pitcher A” standing on the manager’s desk looking into a space where one of the ceiling tiles was removed. “Pitcher B” had climbed into the ceiling and was going to crawl across to the ump’s clubhouse, lower himself down through the ceiling, and steal the bat!!! I can’t quite remember why their plan didn’t work; maybe there was a wall or a duct that was in the way.

His Roommate Was Collie Flower Smith

Brock Bond led the Eastern League in hitting last season as a 23-year-old prospect in the Giants system.  While he showed little power (.408 SLG%) and questionable judgment on the basepaths (13 steals, 15 caught stealing), the 150 hits he compiled in 450 at-bats were enough to help land him at #29 on Baseball America’s Top 30 list for San Francisco.

I recently learned two things about Bond that made my jaw drop. The first comes from Jeff Perro, the second from Baseball America’s 2010 Prospect Handbook:

1) His full name is Brock Lee Bond.  Say the first and middle names quickly, out loud.  Somebody’s parents had a sense of humor.

2) He was drafted by the Giants in the 24th round of the 2007 draft.  I know, I know – there’s nothing shocking about that.  The Handbook, however, notes that he was drafted accidentally – the Giants were actually targeting Casey Bond, an outfielder out of Lipscomb.  I wonder how many people got fired for that little mixup.

I have to admit that it’s all worked out quite well for the lad.  While Casey Bond left the game after two seasons and exactly one game above short season Class A, Brock has climbed the organizational ladder steadily, progressing from Rookie to Double-A in three seasons.  Also, fortunately, the name “Brock Bond” sounds appropriately bad ass, like the star of a spaghetti Western or something.