What’s up y’all! I apologize for taking way too long to update you on what’s been going on. I was going to share how the offseason went right before I left for spring training. But here we are with less than a week of spring training remaining. It’s crazy how fast this has flown by. So, I’m going to give you the update of how the offseason went now, then once I find out where I’ll be heading after spring training concludes, I will be sure to post my spring training update. Thanks for bearing with me.
I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how quickly the offseason flew by. I feel like it was just yesterday that I landed in Grand Rapids after Instructional League. I can hardly believe that that was back in October and that it’s now Spring Training 2017. The offseason was so great though. So many things happened, both with baseball and in my personal life.
Let’s start with baseball. After Instructional League concluded in the second week of October, I took two full weeks off from baseball activities. Once the first two weeks were over, I began my offseason workout plan with Casey Fisk. Casey was the hitting coach at Cornerstone my junior season. He’s a very popular hitting instructor and performance trainer in the Grand Rapids area. He does all of his training out of his pole barn/gym/hitting cage. It’s a great set up. And Casey is a great man that has incredible knowledge of the body, hitting, the game of baseball and performance training. I worked out with Casey three times a week and always learned something new and left feeling stronger (even though I was weak, tired and sore at times, haha). I definitely recommend Casey to any athlete, especially any baseball player, in the Grand Rapids area.
I began my offseason throwing in late November. At first I was just throwing into the net in the batting cage by myself at Cornerstone. That’s the problem with doing baseball in the north—you’re very limited in the offseasons. Although it was very monotonous I made it work. For the first month or so I was long tossing into the net and doing a weighted ball routine once a week. The last week of December I began seeing Rick Kreuger, my old pitching coach from my senior year of high school ball. Rick is the man that changed my delivery back in high school. My mechanics changed drastically. In a good way. Rick helped me smooth out my delivery a ton which led to more velocity, more command and less arm soreness. Without Rick’s help I doubt I would’ve been as successful at Cornerstone, and I definitely would not have the opportunity I currently have. I met with Rick once a week for the remainder of the offseason to throw bullpens and keep my mechanics in check.
In addition to physical preparation this offseason, I did a lot of mental and spiritual preparation. With the help of Derrick Ross, my agent at Pivotal Sports Management, and the staff at my home church, I was able to grow in more ways than one in preparation for the upcoming season. I’m in a much better position going into this season than I was going into last season.
The mental preparation I did was through one of Pivotal’s connections, Dr. Jason Novetsky, sports psychologist with Champion Mindset Group in Birmingham, MI. Pivotal really believes in a holistic approach. I visited with Dr. Novetsky a handful of times throughout the offseason. We discussed mental toughness, breathing and mindfulness, daily mental routines to stay focused and motivated every day, in-game mental habits to stay focused and resilient under pressure, pre-game and post-game routines to prepare for and reflect on performances, and several other things that relate to the mental side of professional sports. It’s amazing how much of a difference it’s made having worked with Dr. Novetsky. Mental strength is a huge separator between the elite and the rest of the pack in athletics—especially baseball—so I’m glad I was introduced to Dr. Novetsky this offseason as I learned so much from him.
The spiritual preparation I did this offseason was thanks to the staff at my home church, Sparta Baptist. Nate, Ben, Ryan, Steve, Amanda — thank you all so much for everything over the last few months. I’ve grown so much having you guys in my life. I appreciate your support and willingness to call me out on things and come alongside me in my spiritual walk. Each one of you is a mentor to me. I’ve learned so much from all of you and I can’t thank you enough. I’m definitely stronger in my walk with the Lord.
In my free time from baseball-related activities, I had a fun-packed, busy offseason. I jumped back into most of my old routine when I got home in October. The first thing I did when I got home from Instructional League was golf. In fact, I golfed 172 holes in the first ten days. I had to make up for all the golf I didn’t do over the summer. Call me soft, but there was no way I was gonna spend an afternoon on the links in the 110º heat.
I never ended up substitute teaching like I had planned on. It turns out that one of the Michigan state requirements for substitute teachers is 90 college credits. Of course I had 89. I will be taking an online class every semester this year, so I will be able to substitute teach next offseason to make a little money while I’m home.
I was able to jump back into serving at SBC with the worship team on Sunday mornings—something I missed a lot during the season. I didn’t play a guitar for five months outside of a few spontaneous trips to Guitar Center so I could jam a little bit. I was also able to head up to the church for Wednesday morning staff meetings and Friday morning breakfasts with the staff. I cherish the times spent in the office with the staff so much. Lots of laughs, good discussion and fellowship with some of the people I respect the most.
Exactly two weeks after I returned to Grand Rapids, I met this amazing woman named Amy. A lot of my offseason was spent with her, making memories and having tons of fun checking out new coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants, and going on many, many dates. I’m so thankful God put such an awesome, loving, elegant, Godly woman in my life.
I also spent a good amount of time at home with family and Bandit, the family Bichon Frise/Shi-Tzu. I’d say I spent more time with Bandit than anyone else over the four-month offseason. I miss that little dude. I played a lot of video games, like usual, and I hung out with the dudes from Cornerstone. I’m so thankful for family, friends and Bandit, and a routine that I can return to each offseason. I know I’ll always have the support of everyone back home, which is very comforting.