From time to time a major league player will play in a few rehabilitation games for a minor league team.
While in spring training we get to play with the major league players from time to time. During the season we only see them on TV.
Last week, the Potomac Nationals had Jayson Werth of the Washington Nationals make two rehabilitation starts against us. I was the starting pitcher in the first game and faced him twice.
Major league players will compete in 162 regular season games, 20-25 spring training games, and if they are fortunate to make the playoffs, that means they will play another 1-20 playoff games. In total a major league team could play over 200 games in 20 or more cities over about an eight month period.
These guys are literally the best in the world at what they do. They hit a white object that weighs 5 ounces, is about 2.9 inches in diameter and is traveling at 90-plus MPH moving in countless different directions ... oh, did I mention it is from just over 60 feet away? That means it is a reaction time of less than half a second.
Jayson Werth is one of the best players in the game, was an MLB All-Star in 2009 and was eighth in voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
When a minor league player finds out he is facing a major league player with that kind of success the immediate reaction is what anyone would think -- "He is a baseball god who hits 500 foot long moon shots on every pitch."
Once the initial "wow" moment has passed you get down to business and analyze how you will approach the hitter. It is a simple break down of his swing, the situation, his strengths/weaknesses, evaluation of your own strengths/weaknesses and most importantly ... execution.
While Jayson went 1-for-2 against me, the hit he had was an end-of-the-bat, soft line drive. Not to take anything away from him, but the two at-bats showed that it isn't talent or ability that prevents players from playing in the major leagues. The difference between a player in the major leagues and the minor leagues is quality and consistency.
Nearly every player in the minor leagues could step foot on a major league field and play a game without fans batting an eye.
The question is can they do it for almost 200 games each year? Can they perform at their very best day in and day out in front of hundreds of thousands of fans? Can you handle the pressure? The butterflies? The critics?
I look forward to the day when I get to face Jayson Werth again.
McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays for the Salem (Va.) Red Sox, the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. His column runs Sundays throughout the baseball season. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.