It’s 7:01am in Pheonix, Arizona. Saturday March 31st, 2018. My name is Tim Dillard. The name may sound familiar, but you’d be wrong. Right now though, I’m a nervous professional baseball player in the final decision making days of Minor League Spring Training Camp. Actually, at this EXACT moment, I’m waiting for my clothes to finish washing in the hotel laundry room. I figured if I make a Triple-A team, a Double-A team, or get sent home… I need to at least smell like a success.
7:05am Like I said my name is Tim Dillard, a (off and on) player in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization for the last sixteen seasons, and sometimes I write things like this for MLB Trade Rumors. In fact, MLBTR did a nationwide talent search for veteran Minor League side-arm pitchers who sport great beards, struggle with grammer, and have a knack for avoiding the Big Leagues… and I was crowned the winner! So here we are.
7:07am The Major Leaguers Spring Training Camp has apparently ended with Thursday’s Opening Day… which explains the unusually short lines at the Louis Vuitton Backpack store. And also means that Minor League team rosters will be revealed soon!
7:08am Oddly enough, my previous fifteen seasons in professional baseball have actually NOT prepared me for that giant life-altering moment when informed if I made a team or not. It can be a very stressful time of year for Minor Leaguers like myself. Players in the farm system are anticipating their April fate… all the while juggling potential flights, apartment leases, equipment shipping, roommates, and which direction to point their car.
7:11am Talking about roster cuts with a couple of guys last night, we agreed the hardest part of spring training is probably: looking back at all the months of hard offseason work, and all the long spring days that were put in… and having that mean basically nothing in the end.
7:14am It’s difficult to get and keep a job in baseball. For me, I try not to focus on the things I can’t control. Instead, I focus solely on being the best well-rounded pitcher I can be, and doing whatever I can to impress the coaching staff and the decision makers… but also setting aside time every day to guilt trip them with pictures of my three kids.
7:22am As I was just putting my clothes in the dryer, it occurs to me that most of my baseball season wardrobe is actually older than my kids. I have two pearl button-up shirts I bought my first season in 2003, three pairs of Brewers issued Russell Athletic mesh shorts from 2004-2006, a discount G by Guess zip hoodie I got in 2008 spring training, a Hot Topic Star Wars t-shirt from 2009, a Buckle sweatshirt from 2010, and a short-sleeve collared shirt LaTroy Hawkins gave me in 2011. (thank God for my wonderful wife… who finally convinced me to to get rid of my seven Affliction shirts two seasons ago)
7:27am Anyway, perhaps this means I struggle with change or maybe have a hard time letting go of things. (I wasn’t a psych major in college… but I did ace Baseball Theory)
7:28am Obviously one of the hot topics this spring has been the new rule changes. Of course the Minor Leagues still has the ever important “shot clock” for pitchers, but now there’s a limit to mound visits. However, the biggest change this season is with extra innings. Starting in the tenth inning of every Minor League game, the visiting team will began with a runner on second base. This was put in place in an attempt to prevent super long games. And even though this is a seemingly huge change to the entity of baseball, it actually doesn’t bother me that much… as long as all the players get Goldfish crackers and Caprisuns after the game.
7:38am Oh yeah I almost forgot, the other day I saw my former catcher from 2006 J.C. Boscan who’s now a coordinator for the Kansas City Royals. He said he enjoys reading my Inner Monologues, and asked me why he hasn’t been mentioned in any of them. So this is me mentioning him. J.C. also wanted me to mention the RBI double he hit off me in 2015… but I told him there’s no chance I’d share that!
7:43am You know that’s probably the thing I look forward to the most every spring is catching up with old friends, former teammates, and coaches. And just the people around the game that spring training brings together. Like a few weeks ago when I met Ron Shelton the writer and director of Bull Durham! The classic baseball movie that younger teammates quote to me constantly… “You’ve been in the Majors?”.
7:48am Or this past week when I also met for the first time (and got three bro-hugs from) 5X All-Star and 2015 World Series MVP Salvador Pérez! Pérez told me he follows me on Instagram and wanted my autograph! Actually that’s not true. Salvy didn’t want my autograph. But yeah that’s right… I call him Salvy now.
7:54am Minor League spring trainings are memorable. And I’m thankful to have yet another one, but I assure you, every player is ready to trade in the morning practices and lunchtime games, for a chance to sleep in and battle opponents under some lights!
7:58am Spring training is like watching one of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies… it looks cool and starts out exciting, but toward the end your clawing your eyes out.
8:01am That buzz means my old weathered clothes… are ready for another season.
To Be Concluded…