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Spring Training Comes to an End, by Tim Shibuya

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This blog was written by Twins minor league pitcher Tim Shibuya. The right-hander was the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year last year, and he will be starting for the Beloit Snappers as the 2012 season begins. Here are his thoughts as spring training comes to an end:

As the end of Spring Training nears, the positives and negatives that you only think about at the start of camp start to become a reality. Friends you have played with for a while might get moved to a higher level as they have earned a job and showed they can play at the next level. Others get bumped down by either poor play, a player being reassigned from big league camp, or a combination of the two. Then there is the worst news a player can get, that they have been released and it is time to part ways. The usually quiet morning atmosphere in the clubhouse is always more sullen when teammates are cut. It is tough to see your friends, acquaintances, and teammates pack their bags and head for the airport for the trip home. Your only hope for them is that they are able to get picked up by another team and continue to follow their dream on the windy road to the Big Leagues.

However, like many events down at Spring Training, you must take the information, digest it, and move on and get yourself ready for the day. You are never safe, so you must refocus and make yourself a better player that day. The coaches have emphasized focus and mental toughness this Spring and these days are perfect to be able to apply those skills to situations. As soon as you start worrying about if you are going to make a team, get cut or anything like that, doubt creeps into the mind and you cannot perform your best. Each day that I have a uniform on my back is a good day, and an opportunity to wear that uniform one more day.

On the other side of things, a nice aspect about Spring Training coming to a close is that your team starts to become more defined and you get to play a few games with the guys who will be with you for most of your season. The number of players getting shuffled from different levels decreases and you are able to start building team chemistry and understanding how each infielder and outfielder does certain plays. Despite all of the time playing on different teams, we are starting to come together already and are having a good time doing it too.

And now for the interesting Spring Training event of the week. On Tuesday of this week we were informed that if we are going to play for the Rochester, New Britain, or Beloit teams, we needed to pack up most of our stuff and put it in a duffel bag so a moving truck could take the bags to their respective locations. The truck left on Wednesday so we didnít have much time to decide what we needed to keep in Ft. Myers, and what we could send off and be without for a week. I spent a fair bit of Tuesday night flipping a coin to see what I should send up to Beloit. And as is customary with my brain, I second, third, and fourth guessed myself packing and unpacking a variety of items, until I made an executive decision to just pack everything I could into one bag and just deal with it. I wish I had made this decision earlier in the night, but oh well, I guess it was a good way to pass the time.

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