If you’ve had any background in sports—and I don’t mean as a couch potato horseplayer—you’ll appreciate what I’m about to tell you. I’ve got a young ball player in the house, 16, a junior, with college baseball aspirations. That means that aside from good grades and SATs, he needs to get on the radar of college coaches and get recruited. How? In the winter, it requires attending college camps and showcases; in other words, getting in front of the coaches of the colleges he’s interested in attending. It’s our version of the Kentucky Derby trail, and it requires the same type of plotting and planning that trainers and owners of promising Triple Crown prospects engage in during the cold weather months.
If you’ve read this blog the last few years (which is on “Racing+Breeding+Youth Baseball”), you’re probably familiar with some of my baseball experiences with my son Johnny; if you haven’t and are interested, read this or this or search this blog (above right) with the key word “baseball.”
So, here’s what we’re confronting with Joe Fernando: the talented shortstop is on the mend from a broken thumb on his throwing arm—which required a five-week cast that ran up his forearm, almost to the elbow—but rehab has taken longer than anticipated; plus, the forearm, which atrophied from inactivity, hasn’t rebounded as quickly as we’d expected because the colder weather has curtailed his throwing program and put him well behind his contemporaries. It goes without saying that he’s not swinging the bat as well now, either, as he works on getting his arm strength back.
Into this mix, throw a week lost to the flu, and colds which pop up now and then, plus fatigue from growing (he’s shot up to 5’11″, 150) and lack of sleep (he’s a teenager), plus studying for school and SATs, and there’s simply not enough time for core training and sprinting (air), plus all the cage work and throwing he needs, to prepare adequately for a showcase.
Which is why—after spending the hundreds in fees—I pulled him out of a major showcase last week and will keep him out of a camp tomorrow that will be attended by a coach from one of the colleges he’s interested in—and one that is actually recruiting him.
He might have done okay, but he might not have, too; but, more importantly, if he’d hurt himself I’d have been sick for taking the chance. And trust me, like a young racehorse bred to run, he wanted to go.
It’s why, I told him, I still call the shots, because one of us has to have the maturity and clear thinking to make the right decision for him. This is, if you know sports, the daily dilemma. Just ask any trainer.