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Archive for March 2010


Checking In with CJ Beatty

March 24th, 2010 | 1 comment »

My friend CJ Beatty has checked back in with us from camp.  Here’s what he had to say going into the last two weeks of Spring Training:

We had a meeting with Pujols this week. He taught us a few of his pointers for his success. Albert’s work ethic is out of this world. He shows up super early and leaves super late. When Pujols spoke it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop on carpet!

This week I had the opportunity to work with Mitchell Page (Low A hitting coach) and he broke down the importance of a short swing and how its the only way to be successful in the higher levels. He gave me the same workout he gave former big leaguer Tony Womack….place a tee right next to an L-screen so the ball is nearly 3 to 5 inches away then hit the ball over and over again creating muscle memory.

Everytime there is a Big League Game in Roger Dean Stadium, Cardinal fans come from all over. The town of Jupiter bleeds Cardinal Red and I love it. Cardinal fans are simply the best ever, greeting you with a smile everytime you see one! Even at the minor league games, fans from the minor league towns come down to see who is trying out for the team.

St. Louis Cardinals 44
Mbisports Client

http://www.facebook.com/l/ab5f1;www.cjbeatty.com

For love of the game,

Kristi

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Inside Spring Training with CJ Bressoud

March 23rd, 2010 | 5 comments »

Our next “Inside Spring Training” host is Angels minor leaguer, CJ Bressoud!  This is yet another CJ I met through L.E.A.D., the terrific inner-city baseball program I keep mentioning (the others are CJ Beatty and CJ Stewart, one of whom has already blogged here and the other who will be soon). 

Although I find something interesting and exciting about every baseball player I meet, particularly the minor league guys, CJ’s story interests me the most.  Unlike the other guys who have been hosts during this series, CJ Bressoud is not participating in his first spring training.  CJ has had an incredibly interesting journey, and although I don’t know him that well, his story tells me the one word that describes him is “perseverance.”

CJ was one of the top baseball players in Georgia coming out of high school in 2003.  While playing for North Cobb High School, CJ earned the following, seemingly endless list, of awards in 2003: GACA 5A Player of the Year, GACA Player of the Year, Atlanta Journal Player of the Year, Atlanta Braves HS Player of the Year, Baseball Coaches of America District 3 Player of the Year, Gatorade GA HS Player of the Year, and Pro Line Hats GA HS Player of the Year.  In addition, he was on the following All-American teams: Baseball America All-American, Rawlings All-American, and BCA All-American.  He also played in the Inaugural HS All-American Game in New York and was a silver medalist in the 2003 Pan American Games for Team USA!

CJ had an offer to play baseball for the University of Alabama, but instead chose to sign with his hometown Atlanta Braves after they drafted him in the 26th Round of the 2003 First Year Players Draft.  He spent 2004 with the Gulf Coast League Braves, but later decided to return to college. 

CJ enrolled at Columbus State University, unaware he would have to sit out a year before the NCAA would reinstate him.  Once he was finally back out on the field, he suffered an unfortunate injury that forced him to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.  Not one to quit, CJ returned in 2008 and posted an impressive .338 batting average with 10 homeruns and 42 RBIs.  He earned All-Peach Belt Conference honors for his successful season at the plate as a hitter and behind the plate as a catcher.

Following his successful 2008 season, the Angels signed CJ to a minor league contract.  He began the 2008 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernals (A) and finished it up with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A-Adv).  In 2009, he spent time with two Rookie teams in the Arizona League and Pioneer League, before moving on to the Cedar Rapids (A) club and then Rancho Cucamonga (A-Adv) club.  While with Rancho Cucamonga, CJ hit 1.000.

It was in 2009 that CJ first made the switch from catcher to pitcher – a big enough change, even if you don’t factor in that he made the switch midseason after the All-Star break!  While with the Angels in the Arizona League as a pitcher, CJ went 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA.  He finished the season 3-0 counting his time pitching with Cedar Rapids, and he closed out a no-hitter during that stretch.  That success meant he got to spend this past winter preparing to be a pitcher, not a catcher. 

With that, I give you a peek inside Spring Training from my friend, CJ Bressoud:

Camp has been good.  Games start tomorrow, and I’m anxious to finally play games. The past week has been soreness, bunt plays, 1st-n-3rds, signs, endless BP sessions, bull pens and lots of RUNNING. Time to compete, time to see what all the hard work in the offseason is for. So far my bullpens have felt strong, my pfp’s are solid, and I’ve been playing tons of COD. This past week already feels like a month, its good seeing the teammates from seasons past and picking up friendships right where yall left off not missing a step.

Spring training is a blast, listening to the Vets talk about just slowing the game down and letting it come to you. And always BREATHE. Just do what your capable of doing and it will work out in the end.

I asked CJ if and how he prepared differently for this spring compared to years past.  As I said before, CJ is making the move from catcher to pitcher, so his training was very different indeed:

Well, this off season was different for me because I was converted from a catcher to a pitcher at the all star break of last year. So instead of my normal off season workout catching pens, long tossing lifting heavy weight trying to bulk up I spent a lot of time running. Long distance for stamina, sprints for endurance. I focused of loosing up my muscles and gaining flexibility. Lots of stretching and yoga. Light lifting lots of reps with light weight.

Mentally I try not to be a “pitcher” basically because I’m not a pitcher, I’m a baseball player with a good arm who just so happens to pitch. I try to keep it as simple and throw as many strikes as possible. Knowing going into this that I will have good and bad outings so I’m prepared not to get to high and mighty when I pitch well and not get too down if I walk 3 guys and give up 1 run in 1 and 1/3rd innings (like I did today). Its the nature of the beautiful beast we call baseball.

CJ Bressoud
Anaheim Angels
Tempe AZ Minor Lg Camp

I hope you all enjoyed hearing from CJ!  His journey has certainly been an interesting one, and I admire his perseverence and determination! 

I’m also excited to announce that CJ is going to let us check in with him throughout the season!  I think it’ll be interesting to hear about his transition from catcher to pitcher and follow his season.  Best of luck, CJ! 

For love of the game,

Kristi

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Inside Spring Training with Chris Masters

March 22nd, 2010 | 8 comments »

Next up in the “Inside Spring Training” series is Braves LHP Chris Masters.  He’s an Atlanta native,  having graduated in 2006 from Kennesaw Mountain High School.  From there, he went on to Western Carolina University, where he established his dominance as a starting pitcher.  At WCU, Chris twice made the All Southern Conference Team, was a six-time Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week, and was a Cape Cod League invitee.  He was selected in the 11th Round of the 2009 First Year Players Draft.  Chris spent last year with the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League (Advanced Rookie), where he was quite impressive.  He led the league in strikeouts (85), and he was second in the league in ERA (1.42) and wins (8).  He also had an impressive streak of consecutive innings without allowing an earned run that I know extended to at least 25 innings.  On top of all of his impressive baseball talent, Chris is also one of the tremendous players who gives his time to L.E.A.D., the inner-city baseball league I’m always touting!  Without further adieu, here’s Chris Masters on his first Spring Training experience:

Well this is my first spring training since joining the Braves organization. I went to Western Carolina University for three years and got drafted by the Atlanta Braves after my junior year in the 11th round of June Draft. I went straight to Danville Virginia to play in the Advanced Rookie League and played there the whole season. We ended up winning the Appy League title.

I did not go to instructional league so I was not familiar at all with baseball in Orlando. After training in Marietta, Georgia during the offseason I headed down to B.E.S.T. Camp (Braves Early Spring Training) on March 1st. After a seven hour drive and the antcipation of my first spring training, I arrived in Orlando. We all stay at the Fairfield Marriot in the Marriot Village close to Downtown Disney and only 5 minutes from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where we play. The hotel is great and the location is in proximity to everything which is very convenient.

First day at the field, we met everyone and the entire staff and it was really more of an orientation day to get a feel for how a day to day schedule would go. We also received all our jerseys, pants, workout stuff. Basically for the first 9 days we threw some bullpens, went through pitcher fielding practice and eased into throwing some live bullpens and gettin adjusted to be on the field with a team again.

March 9th and March 13th were the next arrival dates for pitchers and the rest of position players and now they have divided us up on to different teams. I am on the Rome squad when we break up onto our different fields.

Some of the other cool things that we have experienced. There is a great fan base here at the Wide World of Sports Complex. The facility itself is amazing with a lot going on throughout the day. There are some guys that get called up to dress out with the big league squad which is a great experience for them to get an experience and the extra motivation to get there permanently. We see some of the big league guys around walking in and out of the field. The two hall of famers (one already in and one that will definitely be in) we have seen so far are Phil Niekro and Tom Glavine. Phil Niekro comes around to help out randomly and has done some one-on-one with some of the guys. Tom Glavine just came by these past three days and he spoke to us about his experiences and the mental side of pitching which was so insightful and amazing. He is around the fields at times and has watched us throw our bullpens, which was really neat. I prefer not knowing too much about what the rest of spring training has in store because the anticipation makes it exciting and you never know what the Braves are going to do next and who is going to get moved up or down. The competition is starting to heat up so the players are really starting to get into it. The atmosphere is awesome and the whole experience is a true blessing. I am excited to be here and very excited to be apart of such a classy organization and competitive program with rich winning tradition!

I hope you all enjoyed that great insight into Spring Training as much as I did!  I’m looking forward to seeing Chris in Rome this year.  For those of you who live in the Atlanta area, consider making the trip to Rome for some games this year!  They have a beautiful complex, and you’ll enjoy getting to see all of the young talent the Braves have in the pipeline!

For love of the game,

Kristi

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Inside Spring Training with C.J. Beatty

March 17th, 2010 | 4 comments »

This is the first in an exciting new series of inside looks at spring training from the players themselves.  First up is my good friend, C.J. Beatty, who is a member of the Cardinals organization.  This is C.J.’s first Spring Training, so he’s understandably excited.  Here’s what C.J. said about his experience thus far:

My first day of camp was awesome! I walked around the clubhouse with my chest out proud to be apart of the Cardinals. The players in the clubhouse seem to want “it” bad and will do what ever it takes to get it. We ran 4 60-yd dashes and 6 30-yd dashes for conditioning. We long tossed for ten and did defensive drills for another ten minutes. Batting practice was great having all 120 plus guys warching you take bp and the coaches too! We ended with a meeting with all Cardinals minor league personnel. Adam Wainwright spoke to us today and he was talking about the mental toughness of the game. Afterwards we made us a sandwich to get by until the hotel. I feel great about the situation.

I asked C.J. about some tweets he had after meeting Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols.  Here’s what he had to say about those amazing experiences:

It was amazing! I honestly felt like a kid again! Jaw dropping! They walk with so much power! And when they speak nothing but wisdom comes out.
Thanks, 
Stl. Cardinals #44

C.J. was a stand-out athlete in high school, playing both baseball and football for Glenn High School in North Carolina.  After being recruited by a number of schools, he chose to attend North Carolina A&T State University.  As a freshman, C.J. was the MEAC Rookie of the Year, NC A&T Rookie of the Year, First Team All-MEAC (2007-2009), Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and he led the MEAC conference in homeruns in both his freshman and sophomore seasons.   He was also the Male Athlete of the Year at NC A&T in both 2008 and 2009.  In 2008, C.J. was ranked as the #4 prospect in the Coastal Plain League by Baseball America.  C.J. was selected in the 26th round of the 2009 First-Year Players Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. 

C.J. is actively involved with L.E.A.D., the inner-city baseball organization where I serve on the Advisory Board, and frequently gives back in his community.  He also has what I think is the best website of any baseball player, so please visit it at www.cjbeatty.com!

C.J., have a terrific 2010 season!

For love of the game,

Kristi

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