So far it has been an extremely eventful off-season and we still have two months before reporting to Sarasota, for the last time, for spring training.Ã‚Â I have been keeping very busy working the same jobs as last fall, a customer service position at a fulfillment center in West Chester during the day, and giving private instruction at ChampionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Baseball Academy during the evenings.Ã‚Â
Everyday as I stroll into the fulfillment center and sit down at my call station, I feel a little piece of my soul weathering and dying.Ã‚Â I hope that isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t too melodramatic, but after spending the past six months playing in front of sold out crowds in Dayton and signing autographs for adoring children and fans, coming back to a nine-to-five is definitely humbling; which I know isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always a negative thing, but does take some getting used to.Ã‚Â To balance out the negatives of the day job, I do have the privilege of spending my evenings with not only some hard-working kids but also a great group of current and former minor league players who share a strong passion for the game.Ã‚Â Besides Logan, some other instructors at ChampionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s include Jay Johnson (Red Sox), Tony Maccani (Mets), Mark Haske (formerly of the Tigers), and Bob Reinchow (formerly of the Indians).
Private lessons represent the majority of the time I spend at ChampionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, however I am also assisting in camps and the head coach of a 10-year old team representing ChampionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s at a holiday tournament being held at DisneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Wide World of Sports from December 27 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ January 1.Ã‚Â One of the high school camps I am helping with is being led by Scott Williamson.Ã‚Â I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t imagine, thinking back to when I was 15 or 16, how big an impact working directly with a former World Series Champion/Rookie of the Year, would have made on me, let along a guy who can still hit 95-96 on the radar gun.Ã‚Â I hang around after our sessions and pick his brain about his approach and philosophy to pitching and try to absorb as much as I can.Ã‚Â Tom Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mr. PerfectÃ¢â‚¬Â Browning is also conducting a martial arts-based conditioning program at ChampionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s as well as private instruction.Ã‚Â Needless to say, there is a wealth of knowledge always around.
ChampionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s was able to staff a booth at Redsfest last Saturday, as well as have access to the main event field for an hour of free instruction.Ã‚Â Logan and I went out to dinner the night before with Zach Cozart and Devin Mesoraco, but in between his autograph signing session and taking pictures with fans, I was able to steal some free time to catch up with Todd Frazier. Ã‚Â The event was great and I would definitely recommend it to all RedsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ fans, the lines were a little long on Saturday, so try and get there during the Friday night activities. Ã‚Â I was really looking forward to seeing Brandon Waring, who was slated to appear, but was no longer with the organization after being dealt in the Hernandez trade.Ã‚Â I wish Brandon the best of luck and hate to see him leave the Reds, because he is a good friend, but also because now I will have to face him in spring training.
I hope everyone was excited by Walt JockettyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s announcement last Monday of the April 4th FuturesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Game at Fifth Third Field.Ã‚Â One of my definite goals for spring training is to be named as a representative for the minor league team.Ã‚Â The front office will probably want to go with a lot of the top prospects, but maybe my ties to the area and a solid spring will persuade them otherwise.
I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, joyful Kwanzaa, and a happy New Year!Ã‚Â Here is to a wonderful 2009.