Hey everybody, it’s Maxx again. I’m back after a LONG while, and I’m going to make sure I stay on top of this more as we get through the off season and closer to Spring Training. So far this winter has been a crazy one in the world of baseball, who really saw Robinson Cano leaving the Yankees? I sure didn’t. Prince is now in Texas, Kinsler’s a Tiger and Brad Ausmus who was one of my coaches during Instructs this year is the manager of the Tigers. There has been plenty of excitement at the big league level and as a minor league player seeing all these HUGE contracts being signed I can’t help but think about what it will take to get myself one of those. That’s getting a little ahead of myself though as I’m in a bit of a transition this winter.
At the end of the season I was invited to Instructional League in Dominican Republic. I was invited down and the idea behind my second straight year at Instructs was to begin converting me to being a catcher. I spent the month down there learning as much as I could, working with a cast of coaches including our AZL Manager Michael Collins, our AAA manager Pat Murphy, a DSL coach Jhonaldo Pozo and now Manager of the Detroit Tigers Brad Ausmus. I tried to be as much of a sponge as I could, soaking up all the lessons that their years of experience could offer me. I actually enjoyed learning to catch way more than I thought I would, and it was a great experience being down there.
Now that I’m home for the winter I’m continuing to work hard at my new position, every Saturday my Dad and I make the two hour drive southwest to London, Ontario and Centrefield Sports. Centrefield Sports is an enormous indoor training facility owned by Adam Stern. I go out there to work with Chris Robinson, who caught for the Padres in the big leagues at the end of last year. He made his big league debut, and his first hit was actually a home run. When I was finishing up in Dominican, Murph told me it would be worth it to work with Chris over the off season not only because of his baseball abilities but because of his insights into life as a minor league player. We’ve had some interesting discussions about the grind that is a minor league year, and I’ve learned a few things that have certainly made my receiving much better.
During the week I’ve got the same job as I did last off season as an assistant in the purchasing department of Splash International Marketing. A former teammate’s dad owns the company and having worked there last winter I felt like going back this year was worthwhile. I’ve had to take on a little more responsibility given that it’s my second year and I understand the whole process of what Splash does a little better. I’m currently working on bringing in sample items for our Christmas line for next year. I spend the morning emailing with all the factories in China that we buy products from, arranging shipping, invoicing and other minor details. We’re about half way through the process and by the time we finish we will have gone from getting samples from 150 factories to having our final Christmas line for 2014. It’s pretty cool to watch the process unfold as all the products go from being just a picture in an emailed price quote, to a sample, then an order and finally a display at our upcoming trade show.
I’m also hard at work baseball wise during the week, traveling across the city from my office to The Baseball Zone and SST Mississauga where I work out and practice. Three to five nights a week I’m out at the Zone hitting, throwing doing catching drills and working out. My lifts are really tough right now, but I know from the progress I made last off season that I’ll be in great shape when Spring Training arrives. Last week, Boots, my trainer, had me do a series of sprints pushing the 45 pound plates. Each sprint was 20 yards and the sequence was
- 3 plates in a triangle – 20 yards
- 2 plates side by side – 20 yards
- 1 plate by itself - 20 yards
- 2 plates side by side – 20 yards
That was one rep. It sucked! My legs were jello by the time I was finished all my sets. Even though I absolutely hate the feeling of being sore and tired I know it’s all worth it because eventually I’ll get to that point in the season where my body will have to fight all those same things and get through a critical game.
I’ve also managed to get to see a whole bunch of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey games since I’ve been home. I’m a huge hockey fan, and to be able to get down to some games has been absolutely awesome! I’m 3 and 3 on the year so far, including a win over the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhaws and an INSANE shootout win over Phoenix on Thursday night.
That’s pretty much all that’s going on right now, but I’ll keep you guys posted as things go.
Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating this week, I wish you and your families all the best during your holiday! I’m looking forward to this last week of 2013, and getting ready for 2014 to get started with my Leafs playing in the NHL Winter Classic on New Years day. So Go Leafs Go, keep working hard, and Spring Training is just a month and a half away!