Another amazing experience came on July 17 when I was asked to go to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and catch a bullpen for one of the New York Yankees pitchers, Hiroki Kuroda. MLB was on its All-Star break so most players had the day off but Kuroda needed to get in a scheduled bullpen. The organization asked me to come in and catch, so of course I said yes!
In the morning, I was dropped off at the players' entrance of Yankee Stadium (my first time being there) and escorted by the trainer into the players clubhouse, which was absolutely immaculate in every way. I was given a locker in the clubhouse right next to Ichiro Suzuki, who was there taking some extra batting practice.
I arrived a little early so I was able to hang out and look around the complex until Kuroda arrived. This is when it started to set in where I was and how unbelievably cool of an experience I was having. Once Kuroda arrived, we stretched out, played catch in the outfield and he threw his bullpen. He was impressively impeccable with the location of his pitches and was a joy to catch. After we finished he and I hung out in the clubhouse for while longer, got cleaned up and I headed back to Staten Island (not before receiving some very generous gifts and gear from Mr. Kuroda and taking plenty of pictures of Yankee Stadium and the clubhouse). I then played in our Staten Island Yankees game that night and had another good game going 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk.
I have now been in Staten Island for about two weeks and it has been nothing but great. The whole experience has been so surreal and I am trying to take in each and every day and keep notes so that I can truly appreciate how lucky and blessed I am in this situation. Professional baseball is a grind and it is a must to take care of your body and stay healthy. I have been so fortunate to have a great support system in all my loved ones, Butler and other past coaches and teammates and friends that have stayed in touch and sent me words of pride and encouragement. They all mean so much and I am so proud to be able to represent Butler in professional baseball and show them what being a bulldog and living the Butler Way is all about.