Well here’s something I didn’t expect. All year long I saw teammates come, and teammates go. However, never did I see myself falling victim to the dreaded “release” that so painfully haunts every Independent Pro Baseball player like myself.
Lets rewind 3-4 weeks, to the point where I had been released from the hospital following an appendectomy. Although I was disappointed I couldn’t play anymore (after all, I did have a .375 batting average at that time), it wasn’t season ending surgery so I expected to pick up right where I left off. During my two and a half week recovery, the coaching staff asked me to be a full-time member. I went to coach’s meetings and helped with scouting reports. As a coach, I was also responsible for helping cut players. Although it was a tough transition for me – going from player to Asst. Coach overnight – I needed something to stay busy during recovery.
While I enjoy coaching in general, trying to be a player/coach is not something I would recommend. Over the two weeks I struggled with my identity as a professional, not always being able to sustain equal loyalty to both the players and the coaching staff. The constant tug-and-pull is stressful. I’m getting anxious just thinking about ALL of the questions.
The camaraderie is always the best part of being on a team, especially on a team that you spend every day with for 4 months. I enjoy being one of the guys, just another regular dude who’s trying to make it. To be honest, I loved my team. Loved the guys on it. But with my interim coach status, I felt a subtle disconnect from the players. I didn’t like that I knew secrets that concerned most of their futures, and couldn’t share the details. I didn’t like that players came to me when they wanted answers. I didn’t like that coaches came to me when they wanted answers. I didn’t like that I was coaching 1st base, instead of playing LF.
So 18 days after my surgery, when I became active as a player again, you can sure bet that I stripped myself of those coaching duties without hesitation. We had an important 5-game series against Trinidad, and I expected to reassume my role, hitting leadoff and playing LF.
I was not in the lineup the first game, because the coach said my batting practice rounds hinted that I wasn’t ready. Although I disagreed, I kept my mouth shut.
I was not in the lineup the second game either, which made me more frustrated.
Finally, I was in the lineup in the third game, hitting 9th playing LF. I was happy to be out their playing again, but I definitely showed some rust, going 0-4 on the day. Oh well, I figured, I’ll probably get a shot tomorrow.
I was not in the lineup for the fourth game. Now I’m scratching my head, thinking, “What the hell is going on?”
I was not in the lineup for fifth game. Now I’m the one that needs answers. I approached our manager, Bill Moore, before the game, and asked him if I ever was ever going to get a legitimate shot to play again. I’ll spare you the details – I was asked to turn in my uniform.
When the game ended that night, it hadn’t yet sunk in. I think I was still in awe of what had just happened. It was a vulnerable feeling. I remembered my first blog entry, when I talked about players coming and going with the wind. The difference was, those released players were either not producing on the field or had caused problems in the locker room. My release bothered me. I was producing on the field at an All-Star rate, and was friendly with every person in the organization.
At this point, I can feel sorry for myself, and criticize the coach until I’m blue in the face. However, I know that won’t get me far. That part is out of my hands. I guess I’ve realized that, in this line of work, you won’t always get a fair shake and won’t always get a straight answer. But for now, I’m focused on trying to find the next opportunity, whether in baseball or elsewhere. Hopefully I will get another shot somewhere, sooner rather than later.
Maybe I'll be writing this blog next week from another club. Hasta Luego from Santa Fe, probably for the last time...