Welcome to Surprise, AZ, the sixth fastest growing city in Arizona. It's is located 20 miles northwest of Phoenix and about four hours and 49 minutes away from Vegas... but who's counting. Surprise is the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals, as well as the home of one of KC's four rookie teams, the AZL Royals. My name is Brennon Martin and I was a 4-year starting pitcher for the U of M who was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to play the sport that I love at its highest level.
Each day starts out around 10:00 am, which is noon in Memphis. I usually have a few messages from people who have been awake for four hours before me, but I can't help the fact that I fall asleep around 1:00 am PST every evening. I need my nine hours! After a couple of returned phone calls and a quick facebook check, I head down to the lobby to grab my breakfast consisting of a green apple and an orange which are always in stock. I haven't been waking up early enough for the continental breakfast. Side note: I have eaten more fruit here than I have in my entire life.
After breakfast, I head out to the pool for around an hour. Life is easy right? Wake up whenever your internal clock says to, eat fruit by the pool, and just enjoy the beautiful weather until you have to go to "work/play", which ever you want to call it.
Since I mentioned weather, Arizona has a dry heat, which is very different than what I am used to with the humidity of Memphis. "Oh I would much rather be in a dry heat than in all that humidity," say some of you from Memphis. Well, if you feel this way, go into your bathroom, pull out your, your wife's, your sister's, or your girl friend's hair dryer, turn it on max heat, and blow it on your face for several minutes. That is what the wind feels like here when I walk out into the sun. 115 degrees in the sun is one of the most miserable things ever. However 115 degrees in the shade feels fantastic. That's the only thing I can say is different about the weather here compared to Memphis. I have seen three clouds since I have been here. I never thought I would miss a rainy day in Memphis.
At 2:00 pm everyday, two vans come to the hotel and transport all of the players staying at the hotel to the Royals complex. It's best to become friends with those who have brought their own vehicle and bum a ride from them in order to avoid the bull rush of 30 players scratching and clawing to get a spot into a 12-person van. About 20 of those 30 WILL get on that van. It's a tight squeeze and rather uncomfortable.
Once I arrive at the complex, I enter the lunchroom for what is usually a very good meal. The lunch menu varies everyday, but there is always soup, salad, watermelon, apples, bananas, oranges, and some delicious red and orange drinks which I try my best to avoid because something with that much sugar cannot be good for anyone. A shot couldn't hurt though right? Other than that, we usually get some type of chicken or beef, and pasta or rice.
Practice begins promptly at 4:10 p.m. with a 15-minute stretch routine to follow. We then go to one of the six practice fields on the complex to get our "throwing program" done. It is much different than I am used to. In this program, we have a total of 30 to 35 throws, going no more than 120 ft. apart. I was skeptical of this program at first because I have always lived by the theory of long-tossing (180 ft. and beyond) regularly to strengthen and maintain arm strength. However, after a few weeks of this process, my arm has seemed to recover from the 90+ innings I threw this past college season and it feels more alive than ever. I am throwing harder than I have in a long time (which really isn't that hard to begin with) and I am hoping that will continue to improve.
After throwing, we usually take PFP's or jump right into batting practice for an hour, do our conditioning for the day, and take a break before our 7:00 game.
There is not really much to say about our games. If you consistently play poorly, you will be released. If you play well, you will continue to get opportunities, but you could still get released. It is what you do with those opportunities that sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. Having a consistently solid year is oftentimes not enough for those older players who have been drafted late or signed as free agents, but all you can do is stay within yourself, have a positive attitude, and stay healthy. Baseball is one of the greatest team sports ever created, but in this world I'm living in now, it is nine individuals doing everything they can to be perfect at their own positions, and in the end, that is what makes a team. Not blaming others, but taking ownership of your mistakes and doing everything to improve on them to prevent them from reoccurring.
I hope this has been an interesting perspective on what a day in the life of the minors is really like. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know and I will be sure to answer them or share any information that I have. There is so much more to talk about but I will save it for the next segment! I have yet to mention the different ethnic backgrounds of my teammates, the communication barriers that we must overcome, and many other specific experiences I have had being a member of the AZL Royals.