Hey guys, I’m Tony Wolters, I’m from San Diego, California. I play with the Cleveland Indians Organization, middle infielder. I was drafted in 2010 out of high school in Vista, CA. I have teamed up with Phoenix Bats to give an insider prospective on the journey of a professional baseball player.
On February 10, 2013, I left for camp in Goodyear, AZ. Leaving all my family and friends was difficult but I’m looking forward to the year ahead, full of great opportunities. When I arrived in AZ I immediately started team workouts, every morning; 5:30am sharp; getting ready for the spring training games during the month ahead.
Once at the park, it’s off to grab some breakfast; definitely not your typical drive through food. Everything offered is healthy – scrambled eggs, oatmeal, turkey bacon. About the only thing closely resembling unhealthy is the waffles. With each meal you have to drink a protein shake.
After breakfast, we do our pre-workout activities. This includes stretches and time in the Jacuzzi loosening up muscles. My warm-up routine for strength training included medicine ball slams, glute activities using resistance bands, ladders and jump rope.
Team activities begin at 9 am with stretches and batting practice. We also work on ground balls and bunt defense. After completing these drills and BP, it’s off to meetings and lunch, then on to a game in the afternoon.
With spring training games in full swing, I got the opportunity to play in some big league games. The first big league spring training game, I was excited and nervous, but as the game progressed, I wasn’t in until the fifth inning. So, I had a moment to take it all in and get used to the rhythm of these games, and let my nerves calm down a bit. How I found out I was getting put in the game was Terry Francona said to me, “Tony, you’re going to pinch run and then you’re in at second.” I felt very blessed at this moment, very emotional, realizing this was one huge step closer to my big dream. Of course, I just kept telling myself “I can’t get picked off”. I was all over the place in my thoughts. Guys that I watched on TV, I was now playing with or against. I used to go to Padres games and now I’m on the same field watching Adrian Gonzalez.
Fortunately, I got to 2nd on a past ball, then to 3rd on a hit, and then scored on a sacrifice fly. Coming in to the dugout was very cool with everyone high fiving me. When a run scores in the Bigs, everyone gets up and high fives you. In the minors during spring training, you don’t see it as much, probably because everyone is so focused on the competition.
Big league camp definitely had a different vibe. It just seems more professional. There, it seemed there was more focus on being a good teammate as well as the intangibles. The big league guys for the Indians were pretty much all very personable. Of course, they treated you like a rookie – having fun with you. It was like a big brother, little brother situation. Nick Swisher always made it fun on and off the field. Guys always answered questions, which helped a lot with the schedule and nerves.
After the game, if you don’t have meetings (which by that time you are fighting to stay awake) you get in the ice bath, float in the pool for more therapy, get stretched out, then have your last protein shake. Somewhere between 4:00-5:00pm, you’re done. It’s a long day but it’s been a great experience. In the next few days I’ll be headed off to my team for at least part of the season. I’m looking forward to the new experience…although maybe not the cold weather early spring in Ohio.
Baseball has taught me a lot about life. Life has its obstacles, its ups and downs but there’s nothing you cant over come. Being in my first big league game was breath taking. I’m not at my end result yet but its one step closer. “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” –Thomas Jefferson