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Final Post

It is hard to believe that we are down to the last few days of the 2011 Arizona Fall League. Today I took a few minutes to look back at my first post here on the AFL blog and it is amazing to look back on this great journey. I can honestly say that I am ready for some time off to regroup, reflect, and recharge in preparation for next season. Every guy is different, and I thought I would share a little bit of what my off season will be like.

As I have mentioned before, I do not spend much time dwelling on past successes or failures. This year seems like it went by in the blink of an eye and I am already looking towards the future. My first goal is to establish a strong cardio and lifting program. I will have personal goals in mind, but the first priority is to create a new routine now that I won’t be at the field for the majority of my day. I am going to experiment with some new forms of cardio such as taking spin classes that seem pretty intense. I normally recharge my body with some sort of cleansing program for a few days after the holidays to get ready for the final push before Spring Training. I will take a little time off from throwing, but I will be in the backyard throwing against a stone wall by the end of December. This may seem a little rough, but I actually enjoy being in my comfort zone alone, just working on things. Last year, Anna tried to play catch with me a few times but she doesn’t like it when the ball starts moving on her. I’m sure lots of guys have their own funny “off season throwing” stories.

Of course the off-season isn’t all work. I am looking forward to seeing family and doing some traveling as well. I also will be trying to sneak in some regular Modern Warfare gaming time each day.  There are lots of things I am looking forward to, but I am also enjoying the last little bit of time I have left of this 2011 season. I have made some great friends and learned more about my teammates both in my organization and here in the AFL. Baseball is a world full of change and I know that these guys will cross my path many more times throughout our careers.

Finally, I want to thank you guys-the readers-for all of your support. I was brand new at this blogging thing and I am not usually known as the most talkative guy. This has been a really fun experience and I have enjoyed reading your comments and answering your questions. I hope you guys will continue to follow us players because we all need as much support as possible. For the Red’s fans out there, anybody close to the Cincinnati area should come out to Redsfest Dec. 2nd and 3rd. It is my first year to be in attendance and I am looking forward to participating in this cool fan-friendly event.

I hope everyone enjoys their holidays…and let the countdown to Spring Training begin!

~Brad Boxberger #35

The Home Stretch

Saturday’s Rising Stars game was an incredible experience. I was pretty excited to be on the winning team, and it was great to see a packed house at the Surprise Stadium. Anybody who had the chance to check out the game on the MLB network probably noticed that all of the players and fans were pretty bundled up. The temperatures plummeted on Saturday and it was a chilly 50 degrees at game time. One of my favorite parts of the clubhouse during the game was the Starbucks coffee machine. It definitely helped keep me warm.

    

It felt good to go out there and face some of the best competition in the AFL. I threw the 8th inning and didn’t run into any problems. I was fortunate enough to have a 1-2-3 inning and not make my parents and girlfriend in the stands too nervous. It was also cool to know that a lot of our friends tuned in to watch the game and got to see me throw, some even saw me for the first time.

There are only 9 games left of the regular AFL season. I know that everyone is working to finish strong. With only a few more appearances, I am looking forward to a nice break and some time to think about all that I have learned this season.

 

~Brad Boxberger #35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rising Stars and Falling Temperatures

I had a great Halloween yesterday and was pumped to have so many trick-or-treaters come by the house this year. To top off a great night, I got some even better news once I got to the field this morning. It is such an amazing feeling to know that I have been selected to be a part of the AFL Rising Stars game. The game will take place this Saturday at the Surprise Stadium. It will definitely be a fun day full of excitement, and of course it is always a thrill to participate in games that are televised. Everyone will have to tune in to the MLB network that night and check it out.

This honor means so much to me for many reasons. Since this is my 2nd time in the AFL, I had a few goals set for myself and participating in this game was at the top of my list. My other teammates and fellow AFL players that were selected represent some of the best young players in the game and to be included in this group makes me feel humbled. I still have so much to learn and have even more goals set for the rest of the AFL and into the off-season. An opportunity like this only motivates me to keep working hard to get to the next level and challenge in my career.

On a side note, I heard some cold weather is heading our way by the end of the week, and even saw the low on Saturday is 44 degrees. Guess it is almost time to break out the jackets and turn the heat on for the first time in over 6 months.

~Brad Boxberger #35

Attack of The Lobster

In addition to all the baseball games this week, I have been busy getting ready for Halloween. I am not really big into costumes, since I went all out during my college years, but my dog Ralph will be wearing a pretty amazing costume this year.  “The Lobster” that will be greeting Trick-O-Treaters at my house on Monday night.

Along with getting ready for Halloween, my girlfriend and I have been busy entertaining her parents that came in from Mississippi. We had the chance to check out the AZ State fair and eat at some great restaurants around Scottsdale. One of our favorite spots has become Don and Charley’s. This place feels like a Chicago style steakhouse and has some amazing baseball memorabilia. Their prime rib and BBQ is some of the best I have ever had, and I think that any baseball or food lover should definitely go check this place out.

I just finished watching the World Series, and it makes me even more thankful that I get to play this game as my profession.

~Brad Boxberger #35

The Ups and Downs

One thing I have learned over the years is that baseball is full of ups and downs. As a pitcher, I go out on the field multiple times a week. Life would be great if every single outing was perfect, but that is just not how baseball works. I try to not dwell on any outings, whether they are good or bad. This week I earned my 2nd save on Monday and celebrated a much-needed win. That was definitely one of those “up” days. Like many of the guys, I am coming off of a full season and some days I feel how late it is in the year. I am working hard to stay on a strong workout plan and rest as much as possible to keep my stamina up.

Today, however, I was faced with a difficult outing. I was able to get ahead of the hitters, but made some mistakes and left the ball up at times. It is those little mistakes that resulted in guys getting on base. Things were just not going in my favor, but I am not a guy who checks out and gives up. I fought every batter I faced, and I was able to strike out the last hitter to preserve a win for the Dogs. This was what I consider one of my “down” days. But I feel good to have finished this one out and am ready to get back on the mound again.

I have become a better baseball player because of the “downs” I have experienced early in my career. I mentioned in my first post that my introduction to minor league baseball came in the form of the 2009 Arizona Fall League. Most guys are assigned to a minor league team immediately after they sign, however after I was drafted in 2009 I was unable to play due to contract negotiations. I was given the great honor of being asked to play in the Fall League along with some of the Reds top prospects in the organization. I knew that I would be facing some very tough competition, but I was unaware of how different the transition to professional baseball would be. I learned so much during those few months. I learned that I needed to change the way I worked out and how I treated my conditioning program. I also learned that I had a lot of work to do if I was going to compete with these aggressive hitters. I took the struggles I had in the AFL that year and have used them to make me a better pitcher even today. I feel lucky to have been challenged early on and given the chance to fail.

Now, in the 2011 AFL, I am prepared and confident that I know how to deal with these ups and downs in the baseball world. And I have learned to always have a good time, regardless of the outcome.

~Brad Boxberger #35

The Dog Days of Fall…

I know that saying usually applies to summer. But, here in Arizona the heavy heat has made fall feel more like the middle of July. Hopefully the cool weather will return and give us all some relief. Even though it has been hot, my girlfriend and I got out into the yard last week and decorated for Halloween. The decorations aren’t nearly as cool as my Christmas display, but I am adding on every year. One of my favorite things about being a homeowner is celebrating the holidays. My family always went all out and I am having a lot of fun collecting stuff for my own yard now.

The games this week were tough, but I am happy with how my outings have gone so far. My girlfriend brought a few of her co-workers to a few of the games to check out the AFL for the first time. She works at one of our favorite “mom-and-pop” restaurants down the street from our house. The regulars are some of my biggest supporters and it is always great to have people like that come out to games and be a part of the action.

On Friday I threw 2 1/3 innings which was a great challenge for me. That was the most I had thrown in a game in quite some time, and it felt good to be stretched out since I hadn’t thrown in a few days. I made it through with only a little bump in the road, something all pitchers dread…a balk. Many people don’t know exactly what a balk is, but basically it involves any actions on the part of the pitcher, while a runner is on base, that could deceive the runner. A lot of times, balks are pretty unclear and are usually based on the opinion of the umpire. But either way, I was charged with one but ended up striking the batter out so all ended well.

I am looking forward to our night game tonight, and hopefully checking out the AZ State fair some time next week. I think next week is going to bring some great things for the Dogs, and I am ready to get back out there and get some wins.

~Brad Boxberger #35

 

A Nail-Biting Situation

Bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-2 count. How is that for pressure? That is where I found myself on Friday night at the Scottsdale Scorpion complex. As a pitcher, you have to learn how to handle situations like this without losing your head. I have learned over the past few years that I have to stay calm and not try to overthrow to get out of tough jams. I was able to get the final strikeout and did not allow any runners to score. It is outings like this that make you a stronger pitcher. It is pretty easy to have a good game when everything goes right, but of course that doesn’t always happen in the game of baseball. I was a little wild when I first got out there and ended up walking the first two batters. But, rather than checking out mentally, I was able to stay focused and do my job. It felt good to be able to escape such a “nail-biting situation” and the sense of relief I felt when I walked off the mound was pretty intense.

Not only was I feeling the pressure, but my parents who came into town for the weekend were also on the edge of their seats.  My hometown in California is only a short drive from Arizona, so my parents try to come out and watch the weekend games whenever they can. It is always fun to make things interesting for them.

It feels great to have the first week of the AFL under my belt. I am looking forward to the games this week and am hoping the cooler weather for the day games keeps up.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.

~Brad Boxberger #35

Game #1 Goes To The Dogs!

Game one COMPLETE. The Desert Dogs took home our first victory today. We beat the Mesa Solar Sox 12-8. I was scheduled to throw the 9th inning, so I was able to prepare myself throughout the morning for my outing. On the days I expect to pitch, I normally arrive a few hours early to eat breakfast at the field and hang out until batting practice. It was cool to dress out in the Cincinnati Reds uniform. It definitely made it feel like I am a true representative for my organization.

Our game was at 12:35, but it actually was not as hot as I expected. Today was pretty cloudy with a nice breeze, however we were hit with some pretty serious dust during the game. There were times when I could actually taste the dust in my mouth. I guess you could say that is just part of playing in the desert. One thing that always makes us pitchers uneasy is the way the ball flies in the dry desert air. If there is much of a breeze, the ball will carry and pop ups can turn into home runs. There were 7 home runs in our game alone! It is never fun to pitch on a day like this.

It turns out though; I did pitch on a day like this. I am very pleased to say that my outing went much better than I would have expected with the conditions. I came in to pitch the last out of the 8th inning and then pitched the 9th inning. My pitches were working well today and my arm felt good. I am proud to say that I recorded my first save of the AFL, and I am looking forward to continuing to help my team win some ballgames! Heading back to the ballpark to do it all again tomorrow.

~Brad Boxberger #35

Sunday Funday

Today is what I like to call “Sunday Funday, No Run Day.”  I choose Sunday as my day to watch football, eat food, and relax on my couch with Ralph. I also use this day as my day off from running and working out. My girlfriend Anna and I try to take frequent jogs around our neighborhood in Arizona to stay in shape when I am not working out at the field. Sundays hold a strict “no running” policy.

Today was the first off day of the AFL. Once the games start, Sundays will become the only day each week where I will not have to be at the field for a game or practice. This is actually really nice, considering I normally only get 1 or 2 off days a month during the entire regular minor league season.

I have been a little upset today because my fantasy football team did terrible. We had a few people over to BBQ, so that helped take my mind off of it. My AFL teammate, and fellow Cincinnati Red, Travis Webb and his wife hung out for a while. He and I both talked about how ready we are for the games to start. There is only one more day of practice until the fun begins.

Well, I am off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday. I will check back in on Tuesday after our first game. Thanks for the support!

~Brad Boxberger #35

Thinking Outside The Box

Greetings from AZ! My name is Brad Boxberger, and unlike most of the guys, my drive to Arizona wasn’t much of a drive at all…I live here. In fact, I purchased my home while I was playing in the 2009 Arizona Fall League. I actually made my first appearance in the AFL before I had thrown a single pitch in the minor leagues. We will get back to that in a later post.

For now, I will tell you a little about myself. I played college baseball for 3 years at The University of Southern California where I was a starting pitcher most of my career. I played two seasons in the Cape Cod Collegiate Summer League, where I gained my first experience as a reliever. I was drafted in 2009 by the Cincinnati Reds in the Supplemental 1st Round and have enjoyed being a part of this growing organization. I was converted from a starting pitcher to a relief pitcher in the middle of last season, and I have continued to improve in that role this year. I spent half of the 2011 season with the AA Carolina Mudcats and then was promoted to our AAA team the Louisville Bats after the All-Star Break. A few of my bullpen teammates from both teams are here in the AFL, which will be cool.

A lot of people have heard my last name because my dad Rod Boxberger was also a starting pitcher at USC. He had a better team than we did, as they went on to win the college world series in 1978. My dad also played pro ball and has been a huge influence on me as a player.

Another one of my AFL teammates Grant Green also played at USC with me. It is always fun to play with a college buddy. I am looking forward to hanging out with him, as well as our other buddy Kevin Couture who is rehabbing with the Giants.

My personal mascot is my French Bulldog Ralph. My girlfriend Anna and I purchased him before Spring Training last year, and he was with us the whole season.  This dog traveled to more states than most people get to see. He is really good relaxing partner and chilling with him is the perfect way to blow off some steam after a long day at the field. He also doesn’t nag me when I play video games like my girlfriend does.

I am looking forward to getting on the mound for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. There are some talented guys in the AFL this year, and I can’t wait to be challenged. Today was our first day of workouts, and I can tell it is going to be an amazing experience.

I will keep the updates coming, so check back for more of my…thinking outside the box!

~Brad Boxberger #35

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