Catcher Tony Wolters and the Rubber Ducks are currently riding high in the first spot in their division. We recently had a chance to catch up with Tony and ask him about all the details of the clubhouse, the game, and life playing baseball.
PB: The Rubber Ducks are 1st in the division right now. So, let’s just start with a nod to the hard work the guys are putting in out there.
TW: Thank you. We really are playing well right now. The guys are making incredible plays, but they are doing it consistently. It’s a pretty good time out there right now.
PB: Speaking of good times, it looks like you guys are traveling a lot from city to city. How are you holding up?
TW: Oh man, it’s crazy. You’re always on a bus, doing whatever you can to stretch out and get some rest. We typically bus out late after games, so we are usually pulling up to some truck stop in the middle of the night to eat – you wake up not knowing what state you’re in or what time it is; all you know is that you’re at a place that serves food and you’re extremely hungry. But, I’m doing alright – I mean, I’m playing ball for a living. Doesn’t get much sweeter than that.
PB: It’s got to be tough to stretch out on a bus. How do you guys get comfortable in those back-killing bus seats?
TW: (laughing) You do what you can to get by. There are some guys who bring their own pool rafts and lay them in the aisles so they can get some shut-eye. It’s pretty ridiculous looking.
PB: I respect the resourcefulness, though it has to take a toll on the body. How do you loosen up once you get to a field?
TW: Well, there’s no doubt you’re sore all the time. Somehow, you just get used to it. But when you get to the field – it’s like a switch flips in your body. It doesn’t matter if you’re sore, or if you didn’t get much sleep, or if you have a headache – something just kicks in. You go out there and do your job. You focus on what you can control and you give your teammates everything in your tank.
PB: What’s your pre-game situation like? Are you pretty superstitious about your activity once you get to the field?
TW: Yeah, totally superstitious. But for me, it’s a pretty unglamorous process to get ready for a game. I don’t have a particular song I listen to, or a particular way of putting the uniform on or anything like that – for me, it’s all about routine. I drink a cup of coffee as soon as I get to the field. Then I head out to the cages to take some swings and loosen up my body a bit. I head back into the locker room after the cage, and put on my uniform and just relax a bit. If I’m catching that night, I’ll head over and talk to the pitchers. The last thing I do is spend some time with the trainer to get stretched out, and make sure my body is ready to go out and do my job.
PB: What’s the mindset that you take into every game? How do you keep focused during the ups and downs of the season?
TW: Great question. You know, it’s all about attitude – staying positive and keeping things in perspective. One bad game won’t define your season or your career. You’ve got to get to a point where you just accept the nature of baseball. There’ll be games where you don’t hit well, or don’t field well - it happens. Stick with your routine, keep your mechanics sound, and you’ll pull through.
PB: That’s good stuff. What’s one piece of advice that you’d give a young guy coming up right now – either in high school or college?
TW: I’d tell him to figure out if he absolutely loves this game. If he does, then the only thing that he needs to focus on is working hard and having a good attitude. You just can’t replace hard work – that’s the real X factor to making it in this sport. The guys that I’ve seen go on to incredible success are the hardest working guys I know. Talent matters, sure, but nothing replaces sweat.
PB: Tony, it’s been great catching up with you. We’ll be pulling for you and the guys over the next few weeks.
TW: Thanks a ton. It really means a lot to us!
Read more about Tony Wolters and what he looks for in the perfect bat on our blog.