Player Journal: Steve Stanley Gearing Up

A's CF prospect and lead-off hitting sparkplug Steve Stanley was a catalyst for Texas League champion Midland in 2005. He is a 2002 1st round draft pick and is entering his fifth year in the A's organization. He has agreed to write a journal chronicling his 2006 campaign for OaklandClubhouse. Currently, Stanley is in minor league camp and, in his first journal entry, he talks about his off-season schedule, the rigors of spring training, his hopes for the 2006 season and more...

Hello Everyone,

My name is Steve Stanley and I am an outfielder in the Athletics organization. This will be my fourth full season in the A's system, and my fourth spring training, as well. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and I attended school at the University of Notre Dame where I played baseball there for four years. I currently reside in Scottsdale, Arizona with my wife and daughter who is two and a half years old. I have enjoyed my years in the system and, just like any other player, my hope and desire is to make it to the big leagues to fulfill a lifelong dream. I am excited to write to you throughout the season with stories from the clubhouse, experiences from life on the road, and to share with you the emotions from a full minor league season.

As every season approaches, we as players must begin to train our bodies to get back into shape. I am fortunate to live close to our spring training facility, so I am able to play catch, hit and lift weights at Papago Park (home of minor league spring training). This off-season, I worked at a hitting and training facility called Line Drives AZ owned by former Athletic Steve Ontiveros.

Steve was kind enough to allow me to begin my intense training in the beginning of February so that I could prepare for the upcoming season. Many players like myself in the minor leagues that have families get off-season jobs to make ends meet. Financially, the minor leagues can be difficult, but the end result is worth it for sure.

As February ended and March approached, I began to see all of the familiar faces in the clubhouse and some new ones, as well. Camp officially started for the position players on the 11th, and with such a short time until the beginning of the season, we started into pitchers batting practice and games right away.

Pitchers B.P., as we call it, is when a pitcher throws behind an L screen to a hitter who is inside a batting cage. Many of the hitters do not like it because you feel as if you are enclosed and it is not game-like. For the pitchers they truly are just trying to get their arms loose and prepared to pitch in games against other teams. With two days of pitchers throwing to hitters, we started into games against other teams.

With the A's being in Phoenix, the teams that we play are limited. We usually play most of our games against the Giants (Scottsdale), the Angels (Mesa), the Cubs (Mesa) and the Rangers (Surprise). All within a half hour drive, this makes our experience in Arizona much different then the players in Florida.

As for the daily schedule, we usually start the day around 8:00 am with either a meeting or early work. The meetings are to go over our health care plan, our 401k plan, discussing current player topics such as new drug testing and gambling policies, as well as security briefings. These are all standard meetings and go on each year. Also, we are responsible for a yearly physical and blood work. After all of the administrative tasks are taken care of, the baseball can begin.

Stretch starts at 9:00 am sharp, and if you are on time, you are late. Punctuality in the game is essential. We stretch and condition for about 45 minutes and then we do a team fundamental drill such as bunt defenses, pitchers fielding their positions, etc. This is easily considered to be the least liked part of spring training for everyone. Everyone has been through it, but it must be done. Even the pros have to go through the basics every year.

We proceed to batting practice then go to lunch and play the game. It seems simple but it adds up to a normal eight hour work day. Most games finish by 4:00 pm, and after the game, many players lift weights to ensure endurance throughout the season.

Through March 21, we have played four games against other teams and have had two inter-squad games. I am trying to make the AAA team in Sacramento this year and there is some stiff competition. No one knows who will begin the season there, all you can do is go out and play and let the front office decide where you belong. You don't have control of where you go, but you can control how hard you work. It is a long season, 142 games in AAA, but it is one step from the big leagues. It would be my second chance there, and I would love to get the opportunity. Wherever I am, I am going to give it my all. Thanks for letting me write to you all. Talk to you soon.

Steve

Have questions for Steve? Email them to oaklandclubhouse@yahoo.com. Be sure to include your first name and your city and put "Question for Steve" in the subject line of the email. He will respond to questions periodically throughout the season.

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