Thursday, October 15, 2009

What I Did Last Summer...

I am good for two vacations each year. There is one place I go every year (and you have to know me to know where that is), and for the other trip, I like to go somewhere I have never been before. That decision came in April when it was decided I would go to Maine to get some lobster and seafood and get away for everything to do with work.

So, I booked flights, rented a cabin and went to the library to get enough books to keep me company for a week. As fate would have it, Adam Mills also was in Maine at the time, so as it turns out, I had a little bit of work waiting for me up in the Portland area. I was about an hour from there, so I called Adam to see if he had a little time for me to catch up with him. The team came home for a few days and we did have the chance to hook up. I should have billed the school on a pro-rated basis for working on my vacation, but I decided to go easy on the state in these hard economic times.

I took a few pictures and caught up with him and wrote about his time there, but with the summer he had, I decided to revisit his summer with him recently (he bought a home in the Charlotte area last summer, so he is around) as he is on pace to perhaps become the next former 49er to make it to the major leagues. Pardon the Q&A style of presentation, but I
wanted this blog entry to be in his words...

What was spring training like with the Sox?

I was juiced when they told me I was going over to the big league camp. I went up to the rookie development camp early to get in as best shape as I could. I felt good and about a week into it, I got to go to big league camp. They wanted to be sure that I showed up in good shape. Being around the big league guys for the club I am playing with was not what I expected. I expected them to be guys acting like they were better than everyone and that’s not what happened. It was a family atmosphere and I enjoyed it. I got to work with pitching coach John Farrell and got to get used to Tito (manager Terry Francona). I was able to use the experience to push myself. I didn’t take it like I was lucky. It was a good experience to get ready to do what I needed to do and be where I needed to be. I used it as my fuel for the season to get where I feel I belong. I had an amazing minor league camp.

What was your mindset like heading to AA to start the season?

Whether it was a roster spot or whatever the reason was, I didn’t think I would be starting in AAA. When I got there, I wanted to dominate and get out of there. I started doing things I should not have done, putting pressure on myself. After my rough start, I came to the field one day and decided to start a new season from that day. And that’s exactly what I did.

Talk about the amazing July you had, when I got there to see you pitch near the end of the month. (Mills won seven straight games, including a 6-0 July, setting a Portland record for wins in one month.)

I was in a groove at that point and I got to where I was in the Zone. I could give up a hit or get in a tough situation and know I was going to get out of it. It was a completely different mindset when I was rolling. I couldn’t do anything else to move up and I had to fight the feeling that I had to change what I was doing to get them to notice me to move up. I had to have the confidence that I could keep pitching well and know that it was going to happen.

I’ve learned that the tough thing about each level that you rise to is that to move up another time, conditions have to be right and someone has to fail for me to rise. Now that I have been through this, I don’t have to put so much pressure on myself and can just focus on what I am doing out there. You have to have more good outings than bad ones, but you won’t get crushed for having a bad day. My mindset has me more prepared than before

Talk about the move to AAA and your experience there (he did pitch in triple-A in the playoffs in 2008.)

When I saw it was Charlotte, I was excited that I could be around so many friends. I am glad it was there. I got to go to my house and get my head relaxed. I wasn’t nervous at all or mad at myself at how the game started (Mills gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk in just two innings pitched). I felt comfortable and thought I threw well, but it just didn’t happen. I didn’t feel like I had something to prove. I knew I was supposed to be there. I was able to get out there and pitch well in the next three outings. If I go out there and pitch the way I know how to, I can go out there and give up two hits and no runs, but I can have a bad day. The key is not to let the game beat you by getting away from what you do that is successful.

What did they tell you after the AAA season? What did you do to stay ready?

I did not think that I could do anything else. The very last day of the season, they told me that I was not going to get called up for the last month, but to stay in shape and be ready in the event that someone goes down. I was disappointed at first, but I saw the positives.

What are your expectations for next year? What do you do to get better?

I can’t control who is ahead of me but I can control how I play. My expectations are not to just to move up a level and just be happy. My expectations are to move to the big leagues and stay there. I intend to keep my workout routine. I want to have my whole body in shape. I don’t want to wear down and get weak during the season. If I don’t get to Boston, I want it to be because there is not a spot for me. I am going to put myself in the best possible situation to be ready for that.

Last year, it was different. I could take two or three weeks off to recoup and repair. This year, I had to keep up the work as hard as I was during the regular season. I had to be ready in case of a late call up, but I didn’t take a lot of time off. I had to let my body relax and recoup a little, but I still worked on it. I have shut my arm down until December, but I work out three days a week. It’s not really heavy in the gym right now, but I maintain so that when we go heavy, I won’t be sore. I am on the field three days a week with some light running. I am preparing for the full go.

The Red Sox have a workout schedule based on your body and what you need to do in order to get better and maintain your body. It’s a very detailed workout. I was surprised at how detailed and in depth that they get with your workouts. They are very good about getting you as an individual where you need to be. They call me every month or month and a half to check in with me and see how I am doing, but they don’t micro-manage.

What else is your off-season like? How about your mental health?

I was thinking about something that I could do to stay in the game and keep myself working on baseball to stay busy. It keeps me around the game. I work the first half of the week and I use the last half of the week to get away form it. I am giving pitching lessons to younger players who want to get better. I get to see a kid get better and it’s rewarding. I was joking around with a friend about doing that full-time when playing is over. I have never really had an “eight-to-five” job. I play because I love playing. To be able to stay around something that I love would be a dream. I could definitely see this to be a full-time thing if I had the means to do it.

I also got my North Carolina hunting license. I pretty much golf and hunt to keep myself sane.

What don’t you miss about baseball in the off-season?

You never unpack. That’s the worst part about it. Even when you play home games, you never really hang stuff up. It was great to hang stuff up and put shoes away when I got home after the season. It is finally feeling like home. To come back to the same place this off-season make it feels like my house. I lived in different places each year of college.

--Ryan Rose,

Charlotte 49ers Media Relations

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