Welcome back to another edition of The Schlact Stories. As always, thanks for joining me. Today’s topic deals with a transition, uncertainty, trust, faith, and hard work. These are all things that I am currently dealing with, or must deal with in the very near future. As of a few days after the World Series, I’ll be a free agent. I fully intend on playing next year. I love the game of baseball too much to not play. It’s the greatest game ever invented, and I’m so glad that I can be a part of something so special. And so it begins.
I am currently at home in Atlanta, Georgia. My off-season has just begun, and I am starting to get back into the swing of things in my “2nd life.” I call it that because the life you live playing baseball is drastically different than the off-season life. Baseball bed time? 2 am. Off-season bed time? 10 pm. Baseball wake up time? 11am-noon. Off-season wake up time? 5-6 am most mornings. The schedule alone is enough to make the transition near impossible for the first few weeks. I am beginning to give pitching lessons to kids and I am in the final stages of setting up some off-season clinics as well. I enjoy giving lessons to kids. Seeing how excited kids get when they improve is why I do it. Hearing the stories of the in-game successes they had using my pitching lessons as a guide is why I do it. Plus, it doesn’t feel like a “job.” My wife is a substitute teacher during the off-season. This allows for flexibility in our schedule. My wife and I always enjoy being at home. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing baseball. However, there’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed, cooking in your own kitchen, and relaxing on your own back patio after being gone for so many months.
Let’s get back to this whole free-agency business. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, if anywhere. As I said earlier, I have every intention of continuing my career. Even though I don’t know where I’ll be, I can still prepare like I normally would. My off-season workouts are set to begin in the next week or so. I’ll start running again soon too, and before I know it, I’ll be picking up the baseball to get my arm ready. I’m excited to see what my future holds. It makes me nervous, but it’s exciting at the same time.
Many people have asked me which team I want to play for. Before we dive into that, I have to say something. Regardless of what happens, I owe so much to the Texas Rangers organization. They drafted me out of high school. They gave me every opportunity to succeed. When I had shoulder surgery, they rehabbed me back to health. Without them, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I want to personally thank everyone in the Texas Rangers organization for everything. So many people had an impact on my career. No matter what happens with free agency, I’m so thankful that they gave me my first shot. As I move forward, whether I re-sign with Texas, or move on to another team, I want to play for the team that has interest in me. I want to play for the team gives me the opportunity to succeed in their organization. I want to play for the team that thinks I can contribute in the big leagues for them. It’s simple as that. I’ll be so happy and feel so blessed to play this game as long as I keep having a uniform to put on my back every night.
I have been through off-seasons in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and now 2010. I have a routine that I stick to, a workout schedule that works for me, and an understanding that if I don’t work as hard as I can each and every day of the off-season, someone else will pass me by. I can’t let my dream of playing in the Major Leagues slip away because I was lazy during the winter months. I won’t let that happen. Sure, everything baseball-wise is up in the air right now. Sure, I may not get phone calls from teams right away-or even at all! But, I can tell you one thing. I’m going to keep working hard, keep being positive, and enjoy every minute of whatever happens this off-season. Until next time…