Thursday, 31 March 2011


There's always a harsh reality when playing pro ball, is that one day it may be all gone, and in the some cases, sooner rather then later. This week in camp they started to release players, one of the unlucky players to be released was my locker buddy, Kyle Orr. This was Kyle's second chance at pro ball as he was with the Dodgers the last 4 years as a position player. He was given a chance by the Twins to become a pitcher, but even after a few good outings, the Twins had told him there wasn't a spot for him in the organization. Kyle was a great guy, and I hope he finds another place to continue playing.

Kyle's and my name tags above our locker that we shared

It's also been a tough Spring Training for a bunch of Australians, with the number of releases already at 7 with less then a week of Spring Training to go. The Australian players released were -

Nathan Driessen - Cincinatti Reds
Alessio Angelucci - San Diego Padres
Justin Huber - Minnesota Twins
Kyle Perkins - New York Yankees
Trent Baker - Cleveland Indians
Josh Wells - Toronto Blue Jays
Cody Hams - Chicago Cubs

Having played with and against all of these players, I know how talented they are, and they are still so young, hopefully they realise this isn't the end of their career, get past the disappointment quickly, and find another place to play professional baseball.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Last Week

Tomorrow will mark the start of the last week of Spring Training. So far Spring Training has gone for 17 days, and we have been at the field for 5-8 hours everyday, for no pay as well. You could ask over and over, why do we do it? and you would get the same reason from me every time, it's for the love of the game. Being on a baseball diamond everyday is better then anything else I could think of doing with my life. Of course in the end the goal would be to play in the Major Leagues, but as long as I get to lace up a pair of Nike cleats in the morning, instead of buttoning up a suit, I will always have a smile on my face.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Spring Training this year, met a lot of really awesome guys, and been doing well on the field. So far I have thrown 4 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks and 6 strikeouts.

After Spring Training I will get two days off, to relax and unwind, before 8 weeks of Extended Spring training begins, and at the end of all that, hopefully I will find myself playing for the Elizabethton Twins in the Rookie Appalachian League.

Monday, 14 March 2011

The United Nations

When you look at the title, you would probably wonder, why I am talking about the United Nations?

The United Nations is Group 5 in the Minnesota Twins Spring Training workout groups, it's a name we gave ourselves. There are only 7 pitchers on our group, and 6 different nationalities are represented. These are Australian, Canadian, South African, American, Dominican and Venezualan.

Time for roll call

Canada - Kyle Orr - RHP
Kyle was a 4th round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006 MLB Draft. He was originally signed as 1st basemen and spent 4 years in the Dodgers minor league system. After being released by the Dodgers in 2010, he played for the Victoria Seals in the Golden Baseball League the eventually signed with the Twins with an invitation to Spring Training. In the next few days Kyle will throw to live hitters for the first time in 5 years.

South Africa - Hein Robb - LHP
Hein was signed by the Twins out of the European Baseball Academy in 2008. At the age of 16 he represented South Africa at the World Baseball Classic. He made his professional debut with in the GCL against the Rays in 2010.

United States - Tyler Herr - RHP
Tyler was a 44th round pick by the Minnesota Twins in the 2009 MLB Draft. He is the tallest of our group standing at 6"8 and also has the biggest feet in our group, and in the organization, with size 18's. He made his professional debut in 2010 in the GCL striking out 23 in 21.2 innings.

Dominican Republic - Luiz Nunez LHP
Luis was signed out of the Dominican Republic, he's the smallest in the group standing at 5"11, but weighs 196lbs, so he is a small ball of muscle. He appeared in 19 games in 2010 with the GCL Twins.

Venezuala - Cesar Ciurcina - RHP
Cesar was a starting pitching for the DSL Twins in 2008 and 2009, in 2010 he made his first trip stateside. He posted a 2.91era while winning 5 games in 12 starts for the GCL Twins.

Australia - Mark Trau - RHP
Mark signed out of the Major League Baseball Australian Academy in 2009. After spending most of his career as a two way player, he focused more on his career as a pitcher while playing for NSW at the U18 Nationals in January 2009. He attended Extended Spring Training in 2010 and stayed for the GCL season, throwing 11 innings.

And of course, I am the 7th member of the United Nation.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Physicals and Testing

The first two days of Spring Training with the Twins consisted of getting all your physicals done, doing the fitness testing as well having a light workout on the field.

Day 1
So day 1 with Twins finally came. All that was on the agenda was our physicals and the mile run, which is probably the most dreaded part of this Spring Training along with the 300yd shuttle run. Physicals with the Twins was a lot less painful then it was while I was at the Phillies. Last year it took me 6 hours to complete all my work for the physicals, this year it took me less then 3 hours. Once physicals were done, we ran, stretched and threw, then got ready to run the mile. I'm in the Extended Spring group, so we had to run the mile last. I was pretty confident heading into the mile that I would make it under the required 6 minutes 30 seconds after all my offseason training. To run the mile we had to run 4 1/3 laps of Field 1.

Once the mile started I tried to keep a constant pace up for the whole time, which turned out to be a good strategy as I saw some people that started out hard fell off the pace in the 3rd lap. As we completed each lap we got told what the time was. After lap 1 I was at 1 minute 25 seconds, lap 2 was at 2 minutes 52 seconds, I didn't hear what I was at at the end of lap 3, but the main thing is that at the end of lap 4, my time was 5 minutes 54 seconds, which I was extremely happy about.

Day 2
Today was our first official day of practice. Everyone was in full uniform and the sun was out, so it was a perfect start to our first full day on the field. We worked through various stations and fundamentals as well as throwing a bullpen. This was the first time I stepped on a mound to throw in over 2 weeks, so I was a bit rusty at first, spraying my fastball up, but once I settled down, my bullpen ended up to be pretty good.

To go along with the mile, the other conditioning test is the 300yd shuttle run. What it is, is cones spread 25yds apart, and you have to run up and back until you total 300yds. Anyone thats good at maths will know you have to run it 12 times, so 6 times up and back. The time we had to do it in was 1 minute, and I did it in 58 seconds each time. After you do it the second time, your legs feel like jelly.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Jet Lag

When you leave Sydney at 3:10pm on a Wednesday, then fly 13 hours across the world, and land there at 9:30am on Wednesday, then fly 5 hours across the country, then also gain another 3 hours, a bit of jet lag will kick in.

This is my third year dealing with the jet lag, but failed miserably in the first two days of being in the country. On night one I landed in Tampa at 9:20pm, and Scott picked me up and we got to his house around 10:45pm. Once we got to his house, I was met by two guys that I played with when I was with the Phillies, Steven Inch and Colin Kleven, both Canadians. Once I got settle I got the laptop out, facebooked, and then tried to go to sleep around midnight. Even though I was extremely tired, the attempted sleep was an epic fail. I woke up wide awake at 3:00am, after a couple of attempts to try and sleep again, I came to terms that more sleep wouldn't be on the agenda. So I jumped on the laptop and started watching episodes of The Big Bang Theory, which thoroughly entertained me until everyone else in the house woke up.

On night two, I stayed at a friends house since we were going to Universal Studios the next day. Night two is usually the toughest night for me, I went to bed around 3:00am and woke up at 7:00am. So in my first two nights in Florida I only got a total of 7 hours sleep and since I was going to be spending the day at Universal, it was going to be a mammoth effort to get through the entire day. We got to Universal around 11:00am and were there for a bout 7 hours. By this time I was ready to fall asleep and not wake up for two days, on the way home we stopped at this place called the T-Rex Cafe, which is a dinosaur themed restaurant. We waited 90 minutes for a table, and didn't leave there until 10:00pm. It was a 2 hour drive home, for which I tried to sleep, but couldn't get comfortable. As soon as I got home to Scott's house, I got straight into bed.

Night three I got my usual 8 hours sleep, and night four I got 10 hours sleep, so it looks like I'm finally get used to this time difference.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Flight

This is my 3rd year doing the Sydney to Tampa flight, and I must say, this time around it has been very enjoyable for many reasons.

On the flight to Los Angeles which was about 13 hours, I slept for 10 of them, with the help of some sleeping tablets. Only had time to watch one movie before I fell asleep, which was 127 Hours, a true story about a hiker he has to cut off his own arm to stay alive, after being trapped for, you guessed it, 127 hours, was a bit slow but still a very good movie in my opinion. Once I fell asleep I only woke up a a few times, but other then that, it was a solid 10 hour sleep. Once I woke up with about an hour to go, had time to watch an Arj Barker Stand Up show, which had me actually laughing out loud on the plane.

Once I landed in Los Angeles, went through customs, and re-checked my bags, I then settled at the gates for my flight to Dallas. When I got on board the flight, I noticed that they had Wi-Fi on board, and if anyone knows me, they know I love spending a bit of time on Facebook, so as soon as we could use electronic items, got my laptop down from the overhead compartment, and starting Facebooking straight away. Sitting on Facebook did make the 2 hour 20 minute flight fly by, no pun intended. Did have an embaressing moment though, I was listening to music via iTunes on the laptop, thinking I had my headphones plugged in, but they weren't fully in, so everyone around me could hear what I was listening to, and no, I wasn't listening to Taylor Swift at the time.

It was only a 50 minute wait in Dallas before I boarded my final flight to Tampa. I got on the plane and it had Wi-Fi as well, so naturally, I started Facebooking again, but this time on my iPhone as I was too lazy to get my laptop out. This flight was the only one where I didn't get some sleep, so it did feel like the longest one. When I got to Tampa and collected my bags, one of them was broken, one of the side handles had been broken off, I was quite disappointed seeing as though my mum only bought the bag two days earlier. Scott Mathieson picked me up at the airport and then we drove off to his house. Where I am writing from, and now I it's time for me to get some sleep!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

It's Time

So here it is, the moment I been waiting for ever since my release from the Phillies on the 29th of March 2010, heading on a plane back to Florida for Spring Training.

The journey to this point has been hard, harder then most people would think, I came home and immediately got to work on a chance to play professional baseball. I was lucky enough to be able throw in front of scouts as soon as I returned, the results were encouraging, but knew a contract wasn't going to be handed to me that easily. After the bullpen Glenn Williams spoke to me, and offered me a spot in the NSW High Performance Program, an offer I quickly snapped up with open arms. I also acquired the services of Craig Stoves to help me sign another contract, and the help and advice he gave me was invaluable throughout the whole process of resigning. With their help I worked my way onto the roster at the Major League Academy, I wasn't on scholarship so I had to pay my own way there, and if  I was going to pay to be there, I was going to make it money well spent.

I walked into the gym on Monday the 12th of April, weighing a staggering 104.1kg, something I am quite embaressed about. It started off as 1 hour gym session a few times a week, as well as attending training at Blacktown Olympic Park with the High Performance Squad. I was training with kids 5 years younger then me, so I did feel like the odd one out at times. I knew I would have to get fit and get in shape, at that first training session, I could only manage to run 8 poles before I was too tired to keep on going. I slowly increased my workload, By the end of May, I was in the gym 5 times a week for 3 hours at a time. Doing an hour of cardio, lifting for an hour and then another hour of cardio. Also running 4 and 5 laps of the Blacktown Olympic Park Baseball Complex, and even one night running 40 poles. On the 27th of May I stepped on the scales in my gym weighing 87.4kg, feeling stronger and fitter then I had ever felt before.

On the 28th of May I made my way to the Major League Academy, hoping all my hard work had paid off. My first two outings in relief were quite shaky, allowing 2 runs in 5 innings, but later settled down in the starters role. While I was putting up good results, I wasn't catching the eye of many scouts there. So I just kept doing what I knew how to do, which was pitch, and not worry about anything else. There was one outing that stood out to me, and that was my start on June 18th, I threw 5 Innings, for 1 hit, 0 walks and 8 strikeouts. The reason this stood out, is because my change up was the reason for all 8 strike outs. After that game I got a call from Howie Norsetter from the Twins, he was asking general questions about what I plan to do with my career. I really didn't think much of it, until he called again later asking to meet with him. Later that night I was in the lobby of the hotel at the Radisson Resort, and spoke to Howie about baseball, and about how the Twins operate and how they develop their pitchers in the organization. I thought that this was a good sign, it was as if he was pitching me the Twins organisation, after we spoke he said they were interested in me but wanted to see more, I spoke to Craig after, and told him that the Twins were interested and he got the ball rolling for me. Talking to other clubs and fishing out any other teams, after a while we spoke and decided, if the Twins offered me a contract, that I should take it.

A few days later, on the 21st of June, I got a call from Howie while I was out to dinner with some other players, he said we would like to speak with me in the lobby when I got the chance. Since I was out with the boys, I had to wait until we all went back to the hotel together. Time was ticking by and I got back to the hotel just before curfew and immediately made my way up to the lobby. I was met there by Glenn Williams, Craig Stoves, Howie Norsetter and Brad Steil, who is a staff Member from the Twins Minor League Front Office. As I sat down, Glenn Williams shook my hand and said "Congratulations" and thought, alright, whats going on here? Then Howie said "We haven't told him yet, but I do believe congratulations is in order". I looked at Howie, looked back and Craig, and was just in shock, didn't know what to think. Craig just smiled at me and I looked back at Howie, he then said "We would like to offer you a contract to play for the Minnesota Twins". At that moment, I can't explain all the emotions that were going through me, that moment is what all the last few months of work was for, to receive that second chance. I remember shaking hands and saying "yes". It felt like I was floating on air while I was in the lobby. As I walked back to my room that night almost an hour past curfew, I remember just walking with my arms raised in the air in disbelief, that I couldn't believe it had happened.

I received my contract the next morning, and they were signed and sent off before the end of the day. Since the 22nd of June I have been waiting to start this second chance, now it's time to go to work.