Robby Rowland Guest MLB Blog: Inside the Life of a Minor League Player
Monday February 6, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Featured today on MLB reports, we are proud to present Arizona Diamondbacks pitching prospect, Robby Rowland and his 2nd Guest MLB Blog. After a little bit of arm twisting, we were able to get Robby back on the Reports. Just kidding. Robby is a super guy and was very gracious in agreeing to return. For his latest Guest MLB Blog, Robby took in some suggestions from his followers on Twitter to come up with different topics to cover today. From all his entries, Robby chose to discuss life on the road, springtime and pre-game rituals. Exclusively on MLB reports, Robby Rowland is back with his latest blog entry:
Robby Rowland- Guest MLB Blog: Hello all! I am honored to say that I have been welcomed back onto the Reports. Once again, I would like to thank Jonathan for having me on here. It truly is an honor to be asked to share my experiences with the world. For those of you who have not met me in person, you should know that I just love to talk… I got kicked out of a lot of classrooms in my day because I love to chat. That’s why I am honored to be on here- because I am allowed to express my love of talking… but just on paper. I have some great topics to discuss with all of you today. The way I like to prepare my blog entries is by asking my twitter followers about subjects they would like to hear about. I like to first write them down on paper and later type in my blog. And once again I apologize if everything is just thrown down with no sense of proper writing. Boy would my english teacher in high school be upset if he/she read these…
So without further adieu, I would like to discuss several of the topics that you have all brought to my attention!
LIFE ON THE ROAD
Oh yes, the best part about the minor leagues, the road trips! Before I was drafted, I had the luxury of hearing about the Minor League road trip stories from my dad who played professional baseball for 10 years. I always thought to myself that it was the life. It was unfathomable to me how could anyone not like the bus trips, to be in cities that I would probably never visit in my life if baseball had not brought me there. I remember my pops would tell me these stories as if he just hated every breathing moment of it. Then you had me sitting there, with an ear-to-ear grin; just eager to start my career and experience it. Well let’s just say I was a little off…make that way off. The stories were spot on. Granted, the technology is 20 times better these days and we can occupy ourselves a little better but to be honest… nothing really helps.
For my first two years of pro-ball, I played in the pioneer league (Missoula, MT). We had bus trips that included Casper, WY, Idaho Falls, ID, Orem, UT, and Ogden, UT. Not to mention the trips to Billings and Great Falls that were in our league. I believe we had the longest trips out of everyone in the minor leagues, or at least it sure felt like it. Oh and I forgot to mention that when you calculate how long it takes to get somewhere, you have to multiply it by like 3- just because it feels that much longer. After all, you are in a bus! To help the bus ride go by faster, the coaches would put in a movie. That doesn’t really help because I am a movie buff and have seen every movie in the world. So what’s the point of watching the same movies again?
So what did I do to pass the time? Well I went a little “old school”. I pull out a little gameboy and rock tetris! Oh yeah… tetris. For those of you who don’t know tetris, well I don’t know what to tell you. Google it- you will definitely love the game! The hardest part though of the bus trips is pairing up with someone on your team to sit with. Luckily the starting pitchers who pitch the next game get a seat to themselves in order to have proper rest. I know we are spoiled! The days where I don’t pitch, I always look for the smallest dude on the squad to pair up with to have more leg room. And remember I am 6’6”, so I need all the leg room I can get! After what seems like days on the bus we usually pull into the hotel about 4-5 hours before we have to be at the field, to either grab a bite to eat or get some quality and much-needed rest before we head out. All the hotels we stay at vary. We could go from a 5-star Hilton to a negative star underground joint that had rats walking through the halls. And you know it is a sketchy hotel when they still have actually keys to open your room door (editor’s note: my ribs hurt. I can’t stop laughing at this point). I shouldn’t be complaining too much, because at the end of the day I still get to put on a baseball uniform every day and I would really do pretty much anything to have the opportunity to do that.
When I threw my last pitch from last season, I was excited about coming home to be with family and friends. I thought to myself that Spring Training was so far away. Next thing I knew, I was celebrating a new year and Spring was right around the corner. The offseason goes by very fast for ballplayers. Think about it. We are away for 7-8, maybe 9 months out of the year. We are away from family, friends, girlfriends, home, your own bed, home cooked meals, the local town… all that stuff. Coming from high school, it may have been a little harder because I didn’t have the experience of being away in college. But I’m sure it is tough for both types of people. Sure we get used to it after a while. Heck, we get to play something that we love everyday, so it doesn’t take too much of a toll. Sorry, getting a little off topic here. What I really want to talk about is the preparation for Spring Training and what goes on during ST.
At the end of each year, each player is handed a packet basically telling them what to do working out wise in the offseason. The organization makes it pretty easy on us because the packet is real simple to follow. I, on the other hand, thought there was more I could do to prepare myself for the upcoming year. It is a very long season and our bodies go through a lot. So it is our job to make sure that we are doing the proper exercises and eating the right things to allow our bodies to go through the grind of the regular season. If you know me well, you probably know that I cannot stand being bored. I constantly need to be doing something to keep active. Anytime I am bored, I will condition or crush a little yoga session. Just something that will benefit me in the long run. All athletes have a huge responsibility during the offseason. Everyone needs to get their body into the best shape possible. Not just so they can endure the long season, but so that management can see that we pushed ourselves during the offseason and we truly care about our job and seek new ways to better ourselves. It is up to us to make sure that we are doing what needs to be done before camp starts.
Once spring starts, the teams put our bodies through the test with different types of conditions, whether it be sprints or long distance. Trust me, they find out who did and who didn’t put in the work during the offseason pretty quickly. Spring Training is just a big camp really. There are players everywhere, with each and everyone trying to take your job. It is a very competitive atmosphere. It may not seem like people are watching you all the time, but they definitely know what you are doing at all times. So in a nutshell, ST is 26 days long. You have 26 days to work your tail off, prove to the coaches that you have put in the work during the offseason, do well in the drills, be mature, and prove that you are better than your competition. No pressure at all.
As I talk about what I do before the games in which I pitch, remember: everyone is different. I think that my pre-game routine is pretty normal and not too weird. I have seen some other routines that I have to say are very strange… and yes, those are the lefties. Game time is usually 7:00 or 7:15. My routine varies depending on whether we are playing at home or on the road. For the home games, I don’t have to be at the field until about 5:00 or 5:30. I usually get at least 8-9 hours of sleep the night before. I feel like too much sleep is bad, as I end up feeling disoriented. So I make sure to schedule in the hours I will sleep and the time when I will wake up. When I wake up on game day, I usually go get some breakfast. The breakfast itself really doesn’t matter, as long as it’s breakfast. After all, that is the most important meal of the day! I will come back to the apartment and have a lot of time on my hands, so I usually get some video games in or watch a movie.
Around 4:30, I have to go to Quiznos and get my favorite sandwich. Can’t go to Subway. Subway sandwiches before games are bad luck! Once I get my sandwich from Quiznos, I head to the ball field. I get dressed into some shorts and a dri-fit, put my beats headphones on, play my pre-game jams playlist, sit outside and go to town on my sandwich. After I am done with my sandwich, I find somewhere where I can lay down. I then have to visualize success. No negative thoughts go through my head, or at least I try to make it like that. I usually get dressed in my uniform about 30 minutes before game time and head out to warm up. It usually doesn’t take me long to get loose. I like to long toss a little before a game, then throw about 30-40 warm up pitches in the bullpen. I have a lot of pitches, so I attempt to throw each one for a strike at least 3 times in a row. This is key because in an actual game, I have been asked to throw an individual pitch for every pitch during an at-bat. I like to go 50/50 on pitches, from the wind-up and the stretch. I finish off the bullpen session with a simulated hitter.
Now I wasn’t ever planning on telling anyone this… but just before I throw the first pitch of the game, I step off the back of the rubber and very sneakily I whisper to the ball.. just trying to reason with it to go where I want it to go and what not. (editor’s note: a great focus technique. Just glad to hear that the ball doesn’t talk back!)
That is just 3 topics that I have picked out from a group of great topics sent in by everyone. Please feel free to contact me about more topics you guys would like me to talk about in my next blog feature on MLB reports. Like I said before, I love talking about baseball and interacting with you, the fans!
One more thing: I am holding a big Giveaway once I reach 1,000 followers on Twitter (editor’s note: 73 followers away at time of publishing this article!) I will be giving away items such as hats, cleats, cards, baseballs, etc. Please help me get there.
Thanks, hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! Robby
***Robby Rowland is a pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. A big thank you to Robby for his time in preparing today’s Guest MLB Blog! Please feel free to leave any comments and feedback at the end of this page. You can also reach Robby anytime on Twitter (@RobbyRow_12) – remember the big giveaway, so get following Robby QUICKLY!***
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Posted on February 6, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged arizona diamondbacks, baseball, cloverdale, guest blog, minor leagues, missoula, mlb, offseason, pitcher, pre-game ritual, robby rowland, starting pitcher, toledo mud hens. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.