Author Archive

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

Happy New Year!

     I wanted to write a quick blog entry to wish all of my readers a very happy, healthy, and blessed new year. I sincerely hope that it’s the best year yet for all of you! The new year is a time when a baseball player’s internal clock gets ticking a little faster. We can sense that spring training is fast approaching, and the need to be ready becomes critical. The work ethic that we display these next few months will definitely have a direct impact on our start to 2011.

     I’ve entered the new year a free agent. The process for the next few months will be one that requires faith, hard work, patience, and a lot of trust. I’m a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason.” Things will work out the way they are supposed to work out. So, for now, I’ll continue my workouts, running, and throwing. I’ll continue to prepare for 2011 the same as I always have. And, I’ll continue to have faith that something great will come my way.
     Thanks for being here. I sincerely appreciate the support from those of you that read my blog, follow me on Twitter, friended me on Facebook, and have followed my story the last few years. I read every message, tweet, Facebook post, and e-mail or comment that I receive from all of you. It truly means a lot to me. Thanks.
Michael Schlact

In Memory of my Grandma

     It’s always tough for me to find the words on days like this. That’s probably why this will be one of the shorter blog entries that I write. Days like this one remind a person of what’s truly important in life. Days like this remind you to always give loved ones hugs before you leave them. Days like this remind you to live each day as if it’s your last. Today, November 14, 2010, is “one of those days.”

   My Grandma, or Nana as we called her, was a truly special woman. She had many quirks, funny sayings, and incredible stories. Stories from Nana’s childhood would have me on the edge of my seat for hours. Really, any story she told would do that. She had a certain “way with words.” For example, she always would say, “It happened that way going west.” We were never really sure what that meant, or who was going west, or even what happened. We did know, however, that Nana said it. So, it must mean something. She was the overcautious type, just like my Mom. She loved yard sales, flea markets, and family holidays. My fondest memories of her are when we would all get together as a family and head up north to the mountains of North Georgia. We would spend wonderful weekends together. Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, & grandparents. We would talk, laugh, play games, hike, fish, whatever we decided to do. My Nana LIVED for those weekends. It was always right now, during the beginning of November, that our trips would take place. So, today, as I see the leaves changing, I think of her. Above all else though, my Grandma was a baseball fan. She LOVED her Braves. Chipper, Andruw,  McCann, Smoltz, Maddux, the list goes on. She never missed a game on TV. Once I became a professional baseball player, she grew to be even more of a fan, and loved hearing stories of my seasons, spring trainings, and off-seasons. Throughout the season, I send my family and close friends e-mail updates. I tell them what’s going on, where I am, how things are progressing with my career, etc. My Grandma loved those emails. She would call me once she received them to talk things over with me. She wanted the inside scoop on everything I was doing. She was my biggest fan for baseball and writing. 
     Many of you follow me on either Facebook or Twitter. Some of you are friends of mine on both. If you’ve been listening the last few weeks, you know that my Grandma’s health has been declining. We all knew it was coming, and today, I finally got word that she had passed. I saw her last on Tuesday afternoon. She could still recall who I was, who my wife was, and that we were there to see her and visit. She always got brighter when we’d visit. We would talk about baseball, the weather, whatever she wanted. I tried to cherish those times, knowing that they’d soon be no more. Once the realization that my Nana had passed sunk in, thousands of memories started flying through my head. Times that we spent at Vacation Bible School, times that we spent hanging out at her house, times that we spent in the mountains. I could go on and on. The fondest memories I have of her, though, are the ones we spent talking on the phone. Times that I was halfway across the country trying to live my dream. Times that I couldn’t see her, but I could talk to her. Times when she would tell me what a great writer I was, how proud of me she was for making it to the minor leagues, how all she wanted was for me to be a Braves pitcher. My Nana was always there for me. I’m going to miss her deeply, and I know that she’ll be looking down on all of us as we move forward in life.
     I wanted to write this quick blog post in memory of my Nana. I won’t be emailing this one out to her today, but I know that she’ll be reading it. I know that she’ll be looking down on me as I move forward in my career. I know that she’ll be telling all her friends and relatives in Heaven that “her grandson is a pro baseball player” and she’ll tell them how proud of me she is. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me in baseball. Whatever comes next, I know that Nana will be proud of me, and will be excited to hear all about it. RIP Nana.
Michael Schlact

And So It Begins

     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…
Michael Schlact

The Change

     For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the pitcher that you’ve seen warming up before the game, walking out to the mound, standing there for the national anthem, taking my warm up pitches, and it’s game-on. In my professional career from 2004-last week, I was a starter. I got used to that lifestyle. Every 5 days, I show up, drink lots of water, slowly put on my uniform, and head out around 6:30 pm to start my warm ups. I knew that in the early innings I needed to pace my effort level in order to make it deep into games. I knew when I was going to pitch, my pitch count, and what to expect. As of a few days ago, that has all changed.

     I received word that I was moving into the bullpen a few days ago. I took it in stride, as I do with most things. At first, I was a little taken back by it, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it could be a good thing. There is a lot to consider when changing from a starter to a reliever. First, I had always known that 30 minutes was the time it took me to stretch, throw, get off the bullpen mound, and then into the game. Now, I could be called upon at any minute, mid-inning, late in the game after sitting and getting cold for an hour, or who knows what! I may have to come into a game with runners on base, game on the line, and someone else’s ERA and win on the line. I was always on the other end of things. Now it’s my turn to help “hold down the fort.” 
     Another thing I’ll have to take into consideration is when to start stretching, how much to throw pre-game, and how long it actually takes me to get loose. The bullpen guys seem to have a good gauge of when the starter is in trouble out there. A lot of what I’ve done these past few games has been strictly visual. I watch when they begin to stretch out. I watch when that phone rings from the dugout. I watch how the relievers warm up before heading into the game. The tough thing for me is going to be figuring out how to play long toss at 4 pm, and be loose at 8 pm to come into the game. There are tricks to the trade I’m sure, and that’s why I’m soaking in all I can from these guys.
     There is one thing that I’m nervous about over all else. It’s the “you’re in the game now run from the bullpen to the game mound with 8,000 fans watching your every step.” Do I jog? Do I sprint? Do I walk? I will tell you one thing. I won’t trip and fall. Well, I can’t promise that, but if I do I’m sure you’ll hear about it. The other things that go along with being a reliever will be figured out as I go. It’s something that will take time and practice. I’m certainly up for the challenge!
    As always, I thank you for taking this ride with me. It’s certainly been a long, interesting year. Surgery, rehab, throwing programs, bullpens, games, starting, relieving, traveling, the whole deal. You’ve been there to support me and encourage me the entire way. I sincerely appreciate all the kind words you send my way via Facebook, Twitter, this blog comment section. It all gets read, and certainly appreciated. I hope you all have a fantastic rest of your week. Until next time…
Michael Schlact

Trading Season

     Everyone in the world of baseball hears about the blockbuster trades toward the end of July. It’s plastered on every TV screen and sports ticker. It’s talked about on every sports talk show and morning radio show. You see the interviewed players during huge press conferences. People watch the superstars first appearances with new teams while wearing new uniforms in anticipation. There is a behind the scenes to these trades, however. In most cases, minor league players are the tiny blip on the ticker. They are the player to be named later, or the Cliff Lee for Justin Smoak and “some minor leaguers.” From the day I showed up here in Frisco, TX about a month ago, trading season took its toll on my team. I wanted to share with you a quick behind the scenes view on what it’s like when these trades go down.

     My second day in Double-A was in Springfield, MO. Our pre game throwing program had been delayed by some rain, so we were all sitting around watching the few TV’s scattered throughout the visitors clubhouse. The big story of that day was Cliff Lee “supposedly” being traded to the Yankees. We all sat around talking about how the Yankees were going to do it again! They were going to acquire Cliff Lee, one of the greatest pitchers in the game today. Ho-hum, right? The rain lets up and we head outside to play some catch. My throwing partner that day was Kentucky native Josh Lueke. We had just begun throwing when the manager, Steve Buechele, came running out of the clubhouse with the pitching coach and a bat boy. He says something to Lueke, the bat boy runs into the batting cage and grabs our 2nd baseman Matt Lawson, and they head down the tunnel and into the clubhouse. Umm….ok? After about 5 minutes, he comes back out real quick to yell at me that he’s been traded. To the Mariners. For Cliff Lee. Wow. At 4:38 pm I’m playing catch with my fellow pitcher, and at 4:41 pm, he is part of another organization from a huge trade that wasn’t even supposed to happen. Just. Like. That. 
     A few weeks later, we’re in Midland, TX. There had been news trickling in all day that the Rangers needed a corner infielder/utility guy. Jorge Cantu had been targeted by the Rangers to fit that mold. A name that we kept hearing was our closer, Evan Reed. He didn’t really understand that it could happen, nor did he want to understand. It’s always business as usual for him. Remember my story about Josh Lueke a few minutes ago? Stay tuned. While the players hit BP, pitchers shag flies in the outfield. That’s our job during BP. One favorite pastime of pitchers is called “power shagging.” We grab an outfielder’s glove, take a position, and do our best to run down every fly ball in the vicinity. It’s a full out “make the Top 10 play on SportsCenter” type thing for us. Yeah, we’re dorks sometimes. Anyway, we’re out there shagging fly balls, and again the manager comes running out to the cut of the grass behind 2nd base yelling for Evan Reed. He slowly jogs in to near the batting cage at home plate, grabs a cell phone, and begins talking to whomever is on the other end. After a 5 minute conversation he hands the cell phone back to the manager, and disappears into the tunnel. Once BP was done, we all headed in to grab food, and there sits Evan Reed. Bags packed, smile on his face, headed to the Marlins organization for Jorge Cantu. Just. Like. That.
     Remember the Evan Reed story I just told you about? Hang tight AGAIN. A few days later we’re back in Frisco. There had been more stories in the news about the Rangers wanting a utility infielder for Ian Kinsler while he was injured. Christian Guzman seemed to be the intended target. Just as I was leaving for the field that day, it was announced that the deal was agreed to and that 2 minor league pitchers were heading to Washington’s organization for Guzman. I knew right away that something was going to happen again. This time, TWO of our starting pitchers were taken from our team. Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark were informed of the trade as they arrived at the ballpark that day. Just. Like. That.
   Being traded for a major league player is an awesome opportunity. It allows you to head to a new organization with some investment in you. A team gave away a MLB player, and decided that YOU were worth receiving for him. Pretty cool, right? I’m very happy for all my buddies that were traded this year. I know that they will all help those clubs in the future, and I know that the player we received for them will help out the Rangers as we make a push for the postseason. All in all, teammates and friends of mine that were traded THIS YEAR include: Michael Main, Blake Beaven, Matt Lawson, Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke, Evan Reed, Ryan Tatusko, and Tanner Roark. All played for the RoughRiders this year, and all will do great things with their new organizations.
     As always, I appreciate you reading my blog entires, and I hope that you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at what goes down when the “minor leaguers” are traded.  From the outside, it seems easy to hear that you’re traded, hop on a plane, and head to a new city with new coaches and players and living arrangements. I can guarantee you that it’s not that easy.  However, the new opportunity that it gives you is well worth any trouble caused by having to pack your life up and move. Hope you all have a great week!
Michael Schlact

Let’s Catch Up

First and foremost, I’d like to apologize to all my readers on
the delay of this most recent entry. The last entry spoke about waiting to be
activated. I haven’t updated you since, so here we go. June 3rd, I got a phone
call saying that I was going to be activated in the California League for the
Bakersfield Blaze. I hadn’t been back to Bakersfield, CA since July 2007, so
heading back there definitely brought back many memories. Upon arrival in
Bakersfield, I was told by the coaching staff that I was moving into the
starting rotation, and that my first start would be in Stockton, CA. 


There are a lot of emotions that ran through my body each and
every milestone during shoulder rehab. The first time I threw a baseball I was
nervous. The first time I threw a bullpen, I was anxious. The first time I took
the mound during a real game in Arizona I had butterflies. However, walking out
of that clubhouse in Stockton and on to the field to stretch and throw before
my first REAL start was something completely different. I’ve always gotten a
kick out of hearing my name announced over the stadium speakers that I’m the
starting pitcher in a professional game. That’s really cool to me. I enjoy
seeing fans roll in through the stadium gates to find their seats. I love the smell
of the grills firing all over the stadium as I warm up. I even love it when the
opposing fans yell mean things at me as I warm up. It’s all part of what I
missed the last year. It’s part of my job.

        

         My
time in Bakersfield went very well. I was able to start getting back into the
groove of pitching, throwing in front of crowds again and competing in real
baseball situations was something I longed for during my down time. The definite highlight of my time in the California League
was throwing a 90 pitch complete game. In my opinion, that game represented
everything I had worked for the last year. Every pitcher dreams of finishing what he started. There is no better feeling in the world than getting the first and last outs of a ballgame with you on the mound. I wouldn’t have been able to do that
without the help of the Texas Rangers Medical Staff, pitching coaches, strength
coaches, and trainers. To go from shoulder surgery to throwing a complete game
in less than a year was something that really let me know everything was going
to be ok. A few weeks after my complete game win in Modesto, CA, I found out I
was going to be promoted to AA Frisco, TX of the Texas League.

 

         The
Frisco RoughRiders is the team I was playing for when I was injured last April.
AA is the level I was pitching at when I was injured, so naturally it’s the
level I wanted to be competing at again when I returned from shoulder rehab.
Getting that call that I was going to be promoted back to AA was really
exciting for me. Flying into Springfield, MO and meeting the team was great.
The jump from high-A to AA was the toughest jump in competition I made in my
career. I knew coming in a month ago that the competition would definitely
increase. My first two outings went really well, and my last two have been a
struggle.

 

         I
understand that post-surgery pitching will have its inconsistencies. I know
that my arm is re-learning how to pitch with this workload, and that each and
every time out will not be perfect. I also understand that there’s a chance
that my shoulder will never feel like it did before having surgery. But, I am
going to work as hard as I can each and every day to ensure that I get the most
out of my arm. As I’ve said before, I don’t want to look myself in the mirror
down the road and know that my career is over because I didn’t give it
everything I had. I want to look myself in the mirror and know that I gave all
I had every day on that mound and in the training room/weight room.

 

         As
the season winds down, I’ll definitely update my blog more often. I sincerely
appreciate my wife, family, friends, all my readers, Facebook friends, and
Twitter friends being there for me. Each and every milestone, outing (good or
bad), and every new day you all are there to lift me up, keep me entertained,
and offer positive and encouraging words. I’m glad that I can share this
journey with you guys. The Texas Rangers coaches, players, medical staff, and
training staff have been key in keeping me healthy and on that mound. I owe
many of them a debt of gratitude. Thanks for taking the time to read this
entry. Have a great day!

 

Michael
Schlact

The Waiting Game

     Well, folks, as you may or may not have heard, I’ve been deemed healthy by the Texas Rangers medical staff. The last year of blood, sweat, tears, and surgery is now “in the books.” The game that I love is now within reach. It’s now become a waiting game. Once I’m healthy, I can’t just….leave. I can’t just be deemed healthy and expect to be put right out into the system. It’s understandable that the Rangers want to see me throw a few times in Arizona. Throwing multiple games will ensure health. The last thing anyone wants is a pitcher who thinks he’s healthy because all he really wants is to leave Arizona. That mindset benefits no one. Allowing myself and the Rangers to know that I’m healthy benefits everyone.

     Throwing in games has been such an amazing feeling. Putting on the uniform, strolling out to that mound, and facing live hitters is one of the greatest feelings a pitcher will ever have. I’m blessed to be out there again, feeling great, and doing what I love to do. I’ve had 3 outings so far in Arizona totaling 6 innings. The next step for me, hopefully, is being activated.
     Have you ever had that dream where something you want so badly is right in front of your face? The only problem is that your hands just can’t move. You can see it, but you just can’t grasp it. That’s the feeling I have right now. I’m healthy. I’m ready to go. Now, I just wait and see what happens. In the mean time, I’ll definitely still be blessed to be pitching anywhere. 
     I have to take this time to thank the Texas Rangers and the staff at Gwinnett Sports Rehab in Duluth, GA. Over the last year, the strength and conditioning staff, along with the medical staff, have whipped me back into shape. They have taken me from a guy with a broken shoulder back to a pitcher again. The guys in that weight room and training room for the Texas Rangers and Gwinnett Sports Rehab have worked tirelessly and patiently to get me back to where I am today. I’ve never been in as good of shape as I am right now. I’ve never felt more confident in the strength of my new shoulder. A lot of the success of overcoming shoulder surgery rests on the individual. But, if you all could see the work that was put in by the medical staff, you’d be amazed. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every person that has assisted me and helped me in my comeback. I owe you guys everything. 
     As I said earlier, the next step for me is unknown, but I feel that it’s coming soon. I’ll keep everyone updated during the coming days and weeks. I appreciate all of your kind words and uplifting messages. Fans and friends like you all are one of the main reasons I play this game. Until next time….
Michael Schlact

The Day I’ve Been Waiting For

     I woke up yesterday morning anxiously awaiting that 20 minute bus ride to the Peoria Sports Complex. During the last year, that trip down Bell Road is one that either involved In-N-Out, the mall, or some kind of trip to waste time. Yesterday however, that trip meant something to me. Not that In-N-Out doesn’t. I was rolling down Bell Road on my way to throw the first game in about a year. 

     I’ve put my cleats on while rehabbing my shoulder. But it didn’t feel the same as it did yesterday. I’ve worn my glove, grabbed a baseball, and played catch while rehabbing my shoulder. But it wasn’t to warm up for an actual game. The one thing that I’ve done thousands of times before is put on a professional uniform. However, it has never felt so rewarding as it did yesterday. Don’t get me wrong. It’s ALWAYS cool to be able to put on a professional baseball uniform. I’ve just never soaked it all in while doing it. I’ve never had appreciation, humility, happiness, and nervousness rush through my mind while putting on that uniform. I’ve never truly appreciated the opportunity for what it really is. Until yesterday. 
     As I’ve said before, you really understand how much you take for granted when something you love is taken from you. For me, having baseball taken away while rehabbing my shoulder has made me realize how much I took it for granted. Being on that mound in a game (whether extended spring training, rookie ball, high A, AA…) is the greatest feeling in the world. I felt like everything was going to be ok yesterday. I felt like, even if only for 15 pitches, that I had made it through the tough times. Yes, there is still a lot more hard work to be done. The first few outings are the true test of a rehabber’s hard work during recovery from shoulder surgery. Being on that mound yesterday and throwing pain free was a great start in showing everyone how hard I have truly worked. The first hitter I faced walked. Honestly, the pitches weren’t even that close to the plate. Jitters? Maybe. I got the second hitter to swing at a sinker inside, and he grounded into a double play. The third guy grounded out weakly to the first baseman. Three outs. End of the inning, right? Not in extended spring training with a rehabbing pitcher on the hill for the first time in a year! They want me to get close to my intended pitch count, so they threw another hitter up there. First pitch he saw was a fastball. He hit it off the end of the bat, but found its way up the middle for a single. I still had a few more pitches to work with, so they threw another hitter up there for me. Three pitches. All strikes. I got him swinging for strike 3 on a slider. I honestly forgot how great it felt to strike a guy out! That was the end of my first professional outing in a year. I walked a guy, struck a guy out, and even let my fielders get in on the action a little. Well rounded outing!
     The next step for me is a 2 inning/35 pitch outing on Thursday. Each rehab outing after that will increase my pitch count in order to strengthen my shoulder. Once the training staff feels I am ready to handle a workload of at least 4 innings in a game, I’ll hopefully be activated. There is no telling where I’ll go once activated. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m healthy and pitching well, the opportunity to play in the big leagues will still be there. Thank you all for your kind words the last few days. It means a lot to me that you all would remember to wish me well, or pray, or keep me in your thoughts as I embark on this journey toward health. I truly appreciate each and every one of you. Until next time….
Michael Schlact
     

Personal Milestones

     There are days in shoulder surgery rehabilitation that made me feel as if I was in a deep, dark hole that I couldn’t escape from. I would drive to the baseball field each day, yet never be able to step on it. I could hold a baseball, yet only for shoulder exercises. I could watch other guys run out there and toss the ball around, take ground balls, throw bullpens, and pitch in games. However, I couldn’t. The game that I love so much was taken from me. Slowly but surely I dug myself out of that hole. I scratched and clawed my way back. Little daily victories, followed by weekly victories, followed by monthly ones. I slipped and fell a few times on my way back out of that dark hole. I hit the ground hard, but got back up and started scratching and clawing again. There was only one option for me. To overcome. To play baseball again. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.

     Today was a huge personal milestone for me. I threw in a live BP to a live hitter who was swinging away at my pitches. A live BP is short for live batting practice. Hitters take BP each day from a coach who is throwing the ball relatively slowly at them. In a LIVE BP there is a pitcher out there getting his work in, throwing close to game speed. So, today, I was that pitcher. I have waited almost a year to the day to face a hitter. I’m sure you can imagine the adrenaline rush as I toed the rubber this morning. Sure, there was NO ONE in the stands. Yes, it was only in Arizona. And no, I wasn’t even wearing my uniform. But for 10 short minutes I was back on the mound. My home. My office. Doing what I love to do. Feelings like that can’t be put into words. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Pretty awesome.
     The next step for me is a light bullpen on Saturday. Following the Saturday bullpen is another live BP on Tuesday. Tuesday’s live BP will be a little different. I’ll throw for 8 minutes or so, sit down for 8 minutes, and get up and throw 8 more minutes. The reason is to simulate the start/stop pitching style as a starting pitcher. As long as those go well, I’m scheduled to be in a game sometime around next Saturday, May 15.  
     Just as today was a huge personal milestone for me, actually being in a game sometime toward the end of next week will be an even bigger one. As always, I appreciate all of you reading my blog. I appreciate those Facebook/Twitter followers that constantly keep me motivated/uplifted/focused on my goal. You guys are the best. Thanks again for reading. Until next time…
Michael Schlact
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