March 2011

The Decision

Welcome back. I appreciate you all following along with me on Twitter, Facebook, and my MLBlog. Many of you might have heard the news regarding my free agency for this season. If you haven’t heard yet, here you go. I have signed a 2011 contract with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League. As I wrote in a previous blog entry, independent ball is great for guys who want to prove their health, abilities, or that just love the game. Since day 1, I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the Atlantic League. Many former MLB players are in the league, and the competition is said to be the best in all of indy ball. I am blessed to have signed a contract in that league and I look forward to the season.

Just so that you know, signing with an independent league team doesn’t mean that I can’t sign with a MLB team. If a MLB team approaches me and wants me to sign before I’ve thrown my first pitch in Southern Maryland, the contract just voids without any stipulations. If the Atlantic League season has begun, a MLB team will have to buy me out of the Southern Maryland contract. This of course is not totally confirmed, it’s just my understanding.

I’ll attach a few links for you guys to read up on my new team, and check out the stadium I’ll be playing in for this season. It looks like a wonderful place to call home, and I know some guys that have played there that say you just can’t beat it. Thanks for all the well wishes and kind words from you guys. As you’ve followed my free agency and injury journey, it’s been very comforting to know that so many people are supporting me. I thank each and every one of you sincerely, and I hope to see you at a ballpark this summer!

-Michael Schlact

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

     Many people have been asking me what I’m going to do if a MLB team doesn’t pick me up. I wanted to write a short entry that will hopefully let you guys in on the decision making that a free agent has to make. There are many factors that go in to a team being hesitant to sign a pitcher. Stats, history, character, surgeries, etc. In my case, teams have been hesitant to pick me up because of my 2009 shoulder surgery. I missed most of 2009 and more than half of 2010 because of it, and my comeback wasn’t exactly strong. Granted, I had some great outings. However, towards the end of the season, when my innings started adding up, arm fatigue set in and I got hit around a little bit. All of that is to be expected with shoulder surgery. Ups, downs, highs, lows. So, with very little consistency and not much time to prove my health, you can imagine why teams would be hesitant to sign me. There is a way for me to prove to teams that I am healthy. That I can throw a lot of innings. That I can be consistent. That’s independent league baseball.

     The independent leagues are not affiliated with any MLB team, thus the name Independent Leagues. It’s still considered professional baseball because you are getting paid to play, and many former major league and minor league players try their hand at indy ball in order to prove to MLB teams that they still have the ability, health, or whatever it takes to play affiliated baseball. This is an option I am more than willing to explore. As I’ve said throughout this entire free agency process, I love the game too much to just give up. I have more to offer, and more to prove. My ultimate goal is to play in the Major Leagues, and this could be the stepping stone I’ll need to get there. Throughout the indy ball season, MLB scouts frequent the games. They are looking for guys to sign, and knowing that the independent leagues are home to mostly former affiliated ball guys with good experience, that’s where they’ll look to find it. 
     If indy ball is the route that I take in my career, I’ll embrace every opportunity that I have. I’m going to make each outing count. I’ll go out there with the intent of showing anyone who’s watching that I still have what it takes to come back, and that I’d be a valuable asset to their organization. Baseball is baseball, no matter where it’s played. I’m blessed to still have the ability to play this game, and I’ll be blessed to put on any uniform that’s given to me. The rest is out of my control. 
     Thanks for all of your continued support throughout this process. I sincerely appreciate all the kind words that are sent my way daily. As always, I’ll keep everyone updated on what’s going on. Hope everyone has a great weekend!
                                                                                          Michael Schlact