It has been an enjoyable off season but I'm glad to be back on the field and playing baseball.
I hope the last few months have treated all of you well. Spring training is in full swing in the Grapefruit League and there is a buzz around the facility. The fans aren't the only ones looking forward to the season getting started; the players are chomping at the bit to get back on the field and competing again.
Within the clubhouse it is an exciting feeling to catch up with teammates I haven't seen since last spring training.
While each of us has only met within the last few years, when you spend every day together for a season that lasts seven months, it feels like you've known them far longer.
The entire organization reported to camp in great shape and well prepared for spring training.
Work ethic within an organization is contagious. I've made it a point to watch veteran guys like Jon Lester and Ryan Dempster, who continue to show why they are some of the best pitchers in the game. Their hard work and focus in everything they do is amazing to watch and provides subtle examples of how I can improve my game.
The best major league players have an attention to detail that few players incorporate into their own routines.
Whenever the major league club is practicing before we are, I will make it a point to go watch the pitchers throw their bullpens. It is an opportunity to not only take note of their pitch execution and mechanical adjustments, but also to watch how they talk to coaches, interact with other players, and how they treat the media.
In talking with different players and coaches I've found myself continuing to incorporate their approach into the way I play the game. While that doesn't mean whole-sale changes to my own approach, it does mean always learning and improving from those around me. I am not perfect and whether it is in baseball or in life, everyone has something I can learn from them.
A coach of mine named Rick Sofield (Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates) told me, "The information I give you is like a continental breakfast. Take what you like and leave the rest." That is a saying I've carried with me ever since. The longer I play professional baseball, the more I realize the truth in what he said.
There are more than 35 coaches and more than 200 players in our organization. If you try to apply every piece of information heard on a given day then you will literally spend days debating what is the best way to hold a changeup and whether to wear your pants up or down. Baseball is a game of personal preference and is the epitome of the saying, "There is more than one way to skin a cat."
In baseball there are no two players the same and this is no different in life. We are all unique and we each have our different preferences yet we are constantly borrowing ideas from others to make us better.
This is true in every aspect of our lives and has been true since the beginning of time. There is always someone out there who knows how to do something a little bit better than we do and we shouldn't be afraid of that. It is hard to admit we aren't the best at something, but it builds confidence and character to grow from someone else.
Growth is a lifelong experience and does not stop at 18, when you go "over the hill" or when you retire. Self-improvement is a lifestyle that we must embrace and to help create a more fulfilling life for us and those around us. This has been a common theme in my life and has served me well. Refuse to waste any experience for there is always something to be learned.
Michael McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher now playing minor league baseball in the Boston Red Sox organization. His column will appear each week during the baseball season.