Posted on 24. Mar, 2009 by in General Baseball.


There are two types of games in spring training. The one where you play in front of fans who paid for a ticket and ones where there may be a bleacher on a backfield for passing fans to stop and watch.  The later is what a minor league baseball camp game is usually like.  They take place on the sunny back fields of the Major Leaguers complex and never receive much hype or fan support.

For some lucky players, they are able to play in both games. As spring camp moves on, and the major league clubs make cuts, their roster of players gets thinner and thinner.  They sometimes do not have enough pitchers for the bullpen, catchers to catch the pitchers in the bullpen, or position players to fill in late for injuries or players that do not play a whole game.  Especially in road games, where it is very typical that some older veterans will not make the bus trips and travel to other cities and pitching rotations are spread thin.  The last thing a team wants to do is overwork a reliever during the spring.

These extra players that the big club might need are filled with players from minor league camp, giving the younger kids a chance to smell the big league air.  For some, like Zach Cozart, Jason Bour, and Jordan Wideman, just to name a few, they have never played above Low-A, but get a chance to appear in a packed stadium for a Major League game.

When a player on the 40-man roster is “optioned” to the minor league camp, like Yonder Alonso, Carlos Fisher, Robert Manuel, etc., they are not permitted to be recalled to play in major league games for the rest of the spring, leaving the team to fish for other players.  That is where the younger guys will fit in, also giving Dusty Baker and his staff a chance to see the future of the organization.

Just because a player is asked to “back up” or “dress” for a major league game, it does not guarantee them playing time.  But for most, they are happy to just be there and get a taste of what is hopefully to come in their career.

Catcher Jordan Wideman has traveled twice with the Reds, most recently Sunday to Dunedin to take on the Blue Jays.  Wideman was called upon in the ninth inning to appear on the defense for the Reds.  Wideman told me he was “impressed and happy” that Reds Manager Dusty Baker not only knew who he was, but knew his hometown (Toronto, Canada.)
The best part of talking to Wideman about his experience was listening to him talk about his favorite thing.  It was not getting to catch bullpens of major league veterans, or even hearing his name announced over the loud speaker when he went into the game. Wideman bragged about the food that he received from a clubhouse loaded with snacks before the game, to the Chipolte after the game.  For Wideman, he saw (and ate) a taste of the good life and cannot wait to get back.

Leave a Reply


Random Quote

“It aint over till its over.”
by Yogi Berra managing the Mets in 1973