October 1st, 2011
Haylee and I have gotten everything packed up and are heading back to Texas. Then I’ll be going to the Dominican for winter ball. It feels a little like getting to the end of the school year and you’re ready to take a break – and then you have to go to summer school. It’s not that I don’t want to go. I know it’s exactly what I need to do to get back on track.
But right now I’m just worn out. The last few weeks, I’ve been sore after games and then sore the next day – which kind of took energy away from the game that day. My mind was always still in it, but my body just felt like it was dead.
This season, my first in the majors, was not at all what I expected. If I had written out a plan for this season, it would have been the total opposite of what actually happened. It was just a rollercoaster. I was doing well, doing poorly. I was up, I was down. I was healthy, I was hurt. I seemed to go through the entire spectrum.. But I look at it as a learning experience. I know a lot more about what I need to do to play at this level.
One of the things I’ve learned is that I have to be in condition to play whatever position they need from me. I conditioned last year to play first base, which meant trying to bulk up and get stronger. At first base, you’re expected to play with power. You don’t need as much speed and endurance. But if you’re not conditioned to play outfield, you’re not going to last the season. So I’ll be playing mostly outfield in the Dominican. And in December and January, when I’m home, I’ll be doing more running and conditioning than I’ve done in the past so I’m better prepared to play the outfield.
The main thing I’m going to work on in the Dominican, though, is my swing. Over this season, I’ve made adjustment after adjustment after adjustment so that it all kind of clustered together into one big complicated muddle. There’s so much going on during the season that you can’t really step back and press “reset.’’ You’re just hurtling forward. My mechanics have always been the same, and I lost them somewhere along the way. So I need to untangle the mess and get back to my original form because that’s where I’m at my best. The simplicity will take over and I won’t think about the mechanics as much and I can just go up there and hit.
When I head down to Dominican in a week or so, I’ll check out the living situation and then maybe Haylee will come down and join me. Even if she doesn’t spend the whole time down there with me, she’ll come for visits. Then I’ll be back in late November. I’ll have December and January without baseball. Just conditioning. Then spring training in February.
As tired as I am right now, I’m excited about starting next season. I’ll know a lot more about what it takes to be successful and hopefully avoid some of the mistakes I made this year.
Thanks for all the encouraging comments. They lifted my spirits during the tough stretches and reminded me that, even when my belief in myself wavered, you were rooting for me and kept believing. I can’t tell you how much that helped.
I’m not sure I’ll be blogging from the Dominican. I’ll try but if I don’t, I’ll be back in touch when I get to Scottsdale. I hope I’ll see you there.