I attended a magnet high school and most of the kids I grew up playing baseball with went to our rival high-school. The first game against them I was the starting shortstop. I was proud to be in the starting lineup and eager to prove to these guys I could play.
Four groundballs were hit to me that day and I made four errors.
My parents had driven separately to the game because my Dad came straight from work and after the game was over, he said that I was riding with him. I thought, “great, if I don’t feel bad enough already, he’s going to wear me out.” But that’s not what happened. He calmly asked what I thought I should do and then posed three options: I could quit. I could continue to play and hope nothing like that ever happened again. Or I could continue to play and make sure nothing like that ever happened again.
That Spring was a real turning point for me. At my request, my Dad hit me extra ground balls almost every day. The extra practice made me better defensively, but more importantly – I knew that I was outworking everybody in the city. I quickly learned the importance of confidence. You simply have to put in the work.
I was drafted by the Dodgers in the 14th round in 2004. I made it up to AAA in 2007. In 2008 my season was cut short with an injury and Tommy John surgery. The rehab lasted most of 2009.
In professional baseball there’s a staff of coaches and personnel that tell you when it’s time to hang them up. You simply get released. It takes the decision largely out of your hands.
I went to spring training in 2010 and was released after throwing 2 innings. My Dad had just arrived in Arizona to visit me. He came to pick me up from the complex in Glendale and I remember waiting outside when he arrived. I went to load all of my equipment and clothes in the trunk, but before I could, my Dad got out of the car, gave me a hug and said, “I’m proud of you.” I nearly broke down. Somehow that hug from my Dad felt like the concluding sentence in my baseball chapter. There was a finality that really sunk in.