Phillies’ righthander Eric Pettis will be writing a Prospect Diary for Baseball America this year. Pettis, a 35th-round pick in 2010 out of UC Irvine, explains in his first entry what it’s like to be in a clubhouse on cut-down day.
Spring Training drives me crazy. Coming into camp, everyone’s goal is to progress through the system. Everyone wants to start the year at a higher level than they played last year. Spring Training is your chance to show that you’ve gotten better. It’s your opportunity to prove that you have what it takes. But in Spring Training, it’s hard to figure out where you stand. Nothing is cut and dry. There is so much going on and so many players to keep track of. If you add value to every move, it’ll make you go nuts.
I’ve definitely fallen into that trap. It’s only natural, right? I just can’t help myself. I work hard to hone my craft and where I’m placed is important to me. So, everyday I shuffle players around in my head to see where they fit. I look at who is in which workout group, I look at who is staying in what hotel, I look at who is working with which coach, I look at who pitches in a group other than their own, I look at everything. I try my best to stay aware of the whole picture to see if I can make sense of it all.
As hard as I try, the task is impossible. There is no way to know what is important and what is not. There’s no way to get in the heads of those in charge. Maybe I’m making too much of it all. Maybe our spots are largely determined before we even arrive at camp. But, then again, maybe they’re not. Maybe everything counts. Maybe the fact that I threw my bullpen on the third mound to the left does mean something. Maybe.
The numbers won’t get much clearer until the next round of cuts are made. We had our first cut-day last week. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to teammates. It’s easy to feel their pain and it’s not hard to envision myself in their shoes: I just hope to prolong walking in them for as long as I can. Each cut-day, my stomach churns. No matter how confident I am in my standing, no matter how happy I am with my performance, I always feel sick. Even if I do manage to slip past the chopping block, cut-day is never a happy one.
As Spring Training winds down and the day of team assignments looms nearer, I’m trying to accept things for what they’re worth. I’m trying not to worry about anything other than what I need to do to get better. But that’s easier said than done. There is still that urge to try to figure things out. I just have to remind myself that I can only control what I can control. Worrying about anything else will only distract.
My goal, like everyone else, is to climb my way to the top of the Phillies’ ladder. A promotion out of Spring Training would be a step in the right direction. But if teams are posted and I don’t find my name on the list that I had hoped for, it’ll be okay. There will be plenty of time to prove that I belong. The end of Spring Training is only the beginning.
Pettis has recently written a book called “Just A Minor Perspective: Through The Eyes Of A Minor League Rookie.” He also has his own blog at ericpettis.com and Tweets at @eric_pettis.