Thursday, January 18, 2018

First Day of Fantasy Camp

The first day started out arriving at JetBlue Park at 6:30 for breakfast, meeting the trainers and the morning meeting. I walked into the park through the Minor League Clubhouse entrance and went to find my locker which was in the home minor league clubhouse. I found out that my locker was across from my new friend Steve whom I met on the shuttle from the airport. lockers are scattered between players and professional alumni, so I happened to also have some former major league players around me which was pretty awesome.

Once I settled in, I went to eat breakfast and sat with another rookie camper, Scott, who quickly became a friend who I would see each day of camp. As we were chatting former Baltimore Oriole and current Red Sox coach Al Bumbry sat with us and joined the conversation with sage baseball advice and some pretty great stories and humor. 

We got changed to our game uniforms and went out for a group stretch then drills. I didn’t know what to expect because the last organized team I was in was a Tee ball team coached by my dad when I was 5. 

First group was out fielding where Trot Nixon and Brian Daubach gave us some pointers and then Brian hit balls for us to catch. They told us the most important thing was to have the ball stay in front of you.

We moved to infielding drills by John Valentin. I played at first base and learned quickly that I’m not an infielder. I was lucky if I successfully completed one drill.

We went to base running hosted by Al Bumbree and he told us to run and tag the base on the inside corner if we were turning or on the front edge so we don’t twist our foot as we land. 

I tried pitching and it wasn’t for me. Walking back I chatted with Bret Saberhagen who I followed in the 90s and was shocked that here I was having a casual conversation with him, he was such a nice guy. 

Lastly, went into the batting cages with a handful of pros giving us advice. At first I was popping up balls left and right but then I listened to their advice and starting hitting line drives. 

The entire time we were in drills different coaches were watching us and evaluating us to see who they would draft on their team. 

While we ate lunch, the coaches all drafted the 150+ players into 12 teams. I ended up on a team coached by Bret Saberhagen and Tom “Flash” Gordon. 

We had our first team scrimmage where we tried playing different positions on the same fields the Red Sox minor league teams play. I played centerfield and outfield and realized that is the spot for me. I popped up a fly ball and the end result of the game was we lost our team scrimmage.

After the games, I went to see the trainers and Brandon, the head trainer, told me to go in the ice bath for 2 minutes and the hot tub for 2 minutes and alternate four times. I listened to him and man, was he right! It felt SO COLD at first but my muscles thanked me for it.

We left JetBlue Park and went back to the hotels for the team dinners at local restaurants. We ate at a local Japanese Hibachi place called DaRuMa which was fantastic and got a chance to bond as a team. We even celebrated our coach’s birthday!

We came back to the hotel and I was so tired and nervous i wouldn’t get up to catch the shuttle in time for 6:15 am. I promptly went back to the hotel room and got in bed and slept soundly. 

NOTE: I won this experience as part of a contest held by JetBlue and the Red Sox. I was not asked to blog about this, cover this experience by anyone. I am solely writing about it out of my own excitement and thought that my readers would enjoy my journey of playing baseball and being coached by some amazing individuals. I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride! All opinions are my own.

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