We are now into game six of the 2009 season. One immediate upgrade from last year is apparent. There is now coffee readily available in the dugout during the game. This minor league luxury may seem miniscule; however, it saves me the sometimes long journey into the clubhouse to make my own.
Opening day was cool. Fresno had a ‘flyer over’ during the national anthem. The fans always go wild when some type of fighter jet rips through the air and overpowers whomever is singing the anthem. I enjoyed it.
After Fresno, we shot on up to Sacramento. I heard this team usually has the highest attendance in minor league baseball. I can see why. It’s a nice stadium with a great location and besides the Kings of the NBA, there isn’t any other sporting team around that I know of. I guess it also helps that they have won the league the last two years.
So spring training has concluded and organizations are sending teams to their new home for the next 5 months or so. What a long spring it was! I can hardly remember the day we reported, nor my first bullpen session.
So how was my first “Big League” spring training?
Well, I learned a lot. A lot more than I thought I would. I met many new faces…. faces I only knew previously through sportscenter. I was fortunate enough to talk with some of the veterans about their routines and experiences. Making sure I didn’t overstep my boundaries, I was mostly seen and not heard. The front office, the staff and all the players made it a truly welcoming experience.
As far as on the field, we as a team didn’t win very much this spring. However, the spring doesn’t mean anything. It is a time to tune up your skills and get your body ready for the grind of the 162 (or 142) game season. Personally, I’d say that I held my own in the Cactus League. I made about 12 appearances through spring and exhibition games. Surprisingly, I pitched more than most in camp and managed to make it through the entire spring with the big league team until last thursday before I was called into the office and informed that I was going to start the season in Portland.
Currently, I’m in San Diego. The Padres played two exhibition games; home in San Diego and away at Anaheim. I was invited on the trip and pitched yesterday in Anaheim at Angels Stadium. I got a little taste of pitching in a big league stadium in front of 30,000 fans. It was pretty sweet to say the least.
So tomorrow I fly to Portland to get settled, then Thursday the Beavers play against the Grizzlies in Fresno. Time to start a whole new season!
First and foremost, welcome to my blog site. I figured that I should give a little background on who I am, where I came from and where I am today. So….
My name is Greg Burke and I am currently in the San Diego Padres organization. I am originally from Bellmawr, NJ and recently have relocated to the suburbs of Baltimore. I attended Duke University and graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a certificate in Markets & Management. Duke was awesome! It was a fantastic experience and I am forever grateful for the opportunity that I was given to attend the university and complete my degree.
I took the road less traveled by most professional baseball players. Fortunately, I tore my elbow (UCL) during my sophomore year at school and had to have surgery, which in turn, led to a year missed and a 5-year collegiate career. I say fortunate because the time I had to rehab and get back on the mound (about 1 1/2 yrs) after surgery allowed me to refine my mechanics and improve my physical health, which wouldn’t have happened if I did not tear my ligament. When I look back, it took me about 3 years post surgery to fully get my velocity and command back. If you do the math, that means I didn’t get back to 100% until my “super senior” (red-shirt senior) year. So, that led to me not getting drafted (although I had some looks) and ending up signing a 1 year contract with the Atlantic City Surf of the Atlantic League, which is not affiliated with any MLB franchises… Independent Ball. My velocity came back, I learned a new pitch from Gary Bell (AC Surf teammate) and next thing you know… I was signed at a tryout in Peoria, AZ by the Padres. Since that day, I have went on to play three full seasons in the Padres minor league organization, working my way through both single A affiliates and last year in AA San Antonio.
Today, I am writing from my hotel in Peoria. My success last season earned me an invite to “Big League” camp. This off-season I married my high school sweetheart and I am grateful for every day that I get to play a game that I love. I am truly thankful for each day that I get to put on a uniform and call myself a professional baseball player.