Non-Prospect Diary: Dirk Hayhurst
Duck when Dirk's at bat
See also: Dirk Hayhurt's Initial Prospect Diary
Hey everyone, thanks for reading this--it's fun for me to write.Well, most of the time anyway. Let me explain: In the last article, I wrote some things about my fellow Padres associates, namely our fantastic training staff. I didn't realize it at first but it wasn't the coolest thing to say about they guys who take care of your health!In my heart I just wanted to show folks what the normal stuff that goes on in the average life of a spring trainee. What I said, in effect, was construed as: the trainers didn't take care of me because they aren't good at their job.That couldn't farther from the truth, and I couldn't be more wrong. These guys are awesome, seriously. In fact, while I am writing this I am suffering from some severe diarrhea, and I mean SEVERE (too much information right? Deal with it.). I called the trainers and they took care of me--and they were off the clock.Not one, but two of them showed up to help me out even after my condescending comments. Most of these guys are way more professional then I will ever be and most are better athletes too!This being said, I wanted to clear the air and let everyone know it was not my intent to belittle my fabulous training staff in any way, shape or form. They are classy guys and they do a great job and I mean that 100 percent. Thanks--and sorry guys.
It's a sad thing to watch me bat--it's like watching a wounded animal struggle helplessly against cruel mother nature. When you see me hit--or try to--you will wonder how in the heck I came to bear the title of professional athlete.
If I ever make to the top, I will be the next great justifier for those fans out there who say things like, "Well, if that guy can play in the big leagues, then so could I."
If that's the case, then I would like to think of myself less as a terrible batter, and more as a giver of hope to fans who dream. It's all in how you spin it . . .
I used to hate when position players would say, "You guys (the pitching staff) are pitchers, NOT athletes." Now I use that very same, once hated statement, as a shield in case anyone had any expectations of me actually doing something athletic at the plate.
I'm kidding--I try my hardest, but I am just not as naturally gifted athletically as some of the other guys. It's funny how a team can select someone and slap the label of "terrible athlete" on them. I am that guy. It's my sacred duty to make all the other guys feel better about themselves by comparison and to be the brunt of all the coaches' jokes whenever I step in the box. Just yesterday, the pitching coordinator walked over to me and said "Hayhurst, the big league manager wants you to come over to the big league side later on in the game today--he asked for you specifically."
Excitedly, I said, "Really?" He said, "Yeah, he may need you for a pinch bunt, blaaaahahahaha!!!!"
It's not so much that I screw up the hitting stuff (I do get the job done every now and then), it's when I screw up, I screw up in grand style. I choke way up on the bat and wave at the ball like a blindfolded kid waves a piñata.
I've been told that when I bunt I look like I am going to take a crap . . . I assume that means I am stiff and uncomfortable? That's not to far from the truth. Don't get me wrong, I do get bunts down most of the time, so I am not a total lost cause. I just look like a zoo when I step in the box.
In fact, during my first at-bat this last year with the (Triple-A) Portland Beavers, I embarrassed myself so bad I can still see my teammates rolling about in the dugout laughing.
I was facing this Nippert guy from the D backs.(Editor's note: that would be Diamondbacks righthander Dustin Nippert.) He was pumping 95 mph fastballs, with an 86 mph hammer.
Not the ideal pitcher for the virgin batter to face.
When I got in the box, I got all the way in the far back corner as if I was hoping he wouldn't notice I was even up to bat.
No such luck. I got the bunt sign, swallowed hard, squared around on this flamethrower and inched my bat head out over the plate like I was about to be executed. Nipper's 95 mph fastball slammed into my bat like a semi and knocked it right out of my hands. The ball went sailing up over the backstop and landed in the expensive seats.
Eyes bulging, I looked down at my empty, shaking hands, then quickly at the manager who was trying to be encouraging and not chuckle. In the dugout, the boys were falling over each other in roaring laughter.
The catcher handed me my bat and I said, "Thanks . . . uh, it's coming a lot harder in person huh?" He laughed, but I am sure he felt no remorse in setting me down in three pitches. After two nasty curveballs--which I swung at like I had a bag on my head--I found myself back in the dugout. Some of the guys told me it was the worst batting they had ever seen. I said I was surprised I even made contact with the ball! There is always a positive!
Now I may look like a zoo when I bat, and embarrass myself now and again, but I am not afraid to keep trying. Someday this will all be natural for me.
I think that my best quality is my desire to work hard to get something right even when things are tough or embarrassing. So that's what I've been doing this spring training. Though some people laugh when I ask, I have been trying to get extra BP so I can get some sweet batting skills. They'll pay dividends when the manager leaves me in for later innings instead of taking me out because he can't trust me to get a bunt down.
Besides, now its personal--I have to prove I am not a catastrophic train wreck when I am up at the plate and get that label off my back.