10/24/12


Last days at Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Complex

The second week in Phoenix was more intensive than first one because I was included in the program every day at infield early work, infielders I.P.S. and BP program so when I finished my task I took the opportunity to go and observe other activities at cages, bullpens or gym when was possible.

At the gym was Jeff Mester, Minor League Strength & Conditioning Coordinator, with his staff working with weights and stuff. Like I studied and work like trainer too I was like at home. We discuss about schedules and settings for each player and time of year: rest or recovery times, ranges of movement... Was very interesting too because I consider another task ahead to improve. As well, they did an important nutrition and supplementation speech for off-season program.

 


 

Another interesting activity

10/14/12

Days 4 to 7 at Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Complex


Every morning I started with the infield early work, learning how to do a better infielders with a perfect basics ones. We put great emphasis on the basics of fielding: watch the ball, flex the legs, glove on the dirt, hand relaxed.....
I usually went to ear Hitting Coordinator Sandy Guerrero in the cages. He worked mental part at bat as well as improve small details that take you to improve your performance at the plate. Always with a faster swing.
After the throwing program always was a throw or glove drill: Rundown drill, Four Corners on the Run.....this is interesting to create a competitive atmosphere before the IPS. I went to saw the OF workout. They use a lot of drills throwing the ball with the hand and sometimes, the guys here thought that this in for kids, but is really effective to use for game situations and footworks recreate. I’d like this kind of drills.
At day 4 during the game in Surprise against the Royals I had another beautiful experience coaching at 1B. I’ll have another one in the nexts days (picture is from “Advanced” IL)




Is time for baserunnnig practice and

10/13/12

EBCA Exchange Coach Jorge Miqueleiz at Brewers' Instructional league


Day 1-2-3 at Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Complex

After a long trip from Spain at 6:30 in the morning I was at the door of the complex ready to meet staff members and start my first instructional league day.

When the staff meeting finished I went to field 8 to see the infield early work with the Infield Coordinator Bob Miscik and Dominican Summer League Manager Nestor Corredor. Always they are the first ones to star to work so I had time to see the hitters and the bunters in the cages and field 7. 
Usually they used the cages to hitting and relax his arms working in swing adjustments. Here are waiting single A hitting coach Ned Jost IV and rookie league hitting coach Kenny Dominguez.
In field 7 bunts practice focused on getting the better angle to achieve the goal. Some sacrifice bunts, bunts for a base hit, drag bunts or squeeze plays under Tony Diggs and Charlie Greene view. Tony is assistant director for development center and Charlie is the field and catching coordinator.
The players rotate for all the work areas.
At 9:00 am

8/18/12

MLB European Academy Tirrenia Last Part

Day 4:

   Day starts at 8:15 by early workouts for infielders – working on foot work and angles to aproach the ball. Hitters are working in cages on how to keep hands inside of the ball. I joined pitchers for morning work out. Pitchers started working on flaws which saw previous day during video session. It is very impressive how pitchers are trying to help each other as they are working on the little details in their pitching.
  
   Today is last full day and it is called Review day of all stuff which has been done so far, so coaches emphasize importance of stay sharp and focused during all day. Main workout starts with warm up and play catch at 9:00. Next 30 minutes are position work outs for catchers, infield, outfield and pitchers. At 10:00 all players are gathered around home plate as they go through situation plays and cut offs. All defensive situations are practiced in high tempo and this part is finished with cut off systems. Players shown, that they have listened to the coaches and half day off is visible on their very active performance on the field. Morning session is finished with two stations of live BP and  hitting of the Tee in cages. Meanwhile pitchers recap covering bases and very quick PFP.

   Afternoon is game. Before game both teams take infield/outfield. I took part of Team Blue as coach on first base. Hitters are very agressive and hit of the first pitches. Catchers on both sides are showing their arms as they catching several steals. After game all coaches positively evaluated effort of all players during game and practices and chose 4 players which are going to pick their rosters for friday´s last game. Game was very quick today and it gives me and some other coaches short time to make a trip to the beach and try italian ice cream. 

   After dinner all coaches decided to stay later in caffetria and talk about baseball topics as last evening of this camp arrived.

    Tomorrow is my last day here…..what an experience so far….



Day 5:

   Last day has arrived but all players reported on early work outs as it would be their first one. Coaches spent these last work outs by answering questions of players and reviewing important stuff for players to work on.
  
   Quick warm up and play catch is followed by last game. All players are enjoying every moment of the game as well as coaches.

   After game all players are gathered around home plate and coaches are having closing speech.  Players were told to keep up their good work and carry on as much as they can to the rest of the season and more importantly to the off-season as that will make the major impact on their next season.

   As soon as speech was finished all coaches received big applause from players. Coaches took time to take pictures with players and as surprise each players received signed ball by all coaches.
    Five days flew by very quickly, but I must say what a great experience…… I took loads of baseball knowledge with me…..


   Thanks to all who make this experience happend…


   Before I finish my writing, one thing which stood in my mind the most is, that all coaches in every situation were spreading their positive attitude and their approach to the players when every flaw and fault was transfered into a positive message and stated as part of their learning  proces to become a baseball players….

Petr

8/17/12

MLB European Academy Tirrenia Part Two

Day 2:

Long and very hot day ahead of us….

   Day starts at 8:15 with chosen players and their early work out. I joined Craig Shipley and infielders group. Players start with short play catch just to get thein arms ready for short throws during work out. All work out is focused on foot work and how to approach the ball on 3rd base and 1st base. All balls are being rolled to the players on very short distance, so coach can see proper foot work and immediately can give an advice to the player. At the end we got some minutes left, so Craig decided to show to the players 5 different situation and ways how  to bare hand a ball.

   At 9:00 sharp, all players going through their warm up routine and play catch. Half an hour later players are devided by positions and headed to their stations. I decided to join catchers for this part of the practice. John McLaren took all catchers to the side and explain them how to cover homeplate (proper position of the feet)  and how to

apply a tag on runner (which situation to sweep or block the plate in). This part was followed  up by blocking at very high tempo. Catchers has done a good job which was visible later on in the afternoon game.
Warm up



   Next session was popfly communication  and rundowns. Coaches were shooting pop flys from the machine to all directions and all players were involved in. After popfly outfielders had short water brake and got to do baserunners for infielder to work on rundowns. All pitcher were rotating on the mound and reacting on runners on 1st base or 2nd base regarding the situation.
Rundowns


   Last part of morning session was Batting Practice. Position players

8/13/12

MLB European Academy Tirrenia

  Hello to all coaches! My name is Petr Stříbrcký and I have been chosen by EBCA Exchange Program to go to the MLB European Academy in Tirrenia for a week.

Arrival day:

   After a few hours of flight to Pisa, where was a time to see Pisa tower and taste Italian Pizza, I took a bus to get to Tirrenia. After half an hour of ride and 2 km of walk I finally got to CONI, where the MLB Academy tooks a place.

   It is  really hot Sunday and players have afternoon off after work out in the morning. I got keys from my room and headed to have a look over the whole facility. It is a huge complex of baseball and softball fields, surrounded by hitting cages on one side and bullpens on the other side. In between our dormitory and fields is huge tent full of indoor batting cages and pitching machines to be used in bad weather. Few meters far from the indoor cages is fully equiped gym. In the areal is also track and field and several soccer and rugby pitches.

   Dinner is schedule at 19:30 in local caffeteria. As menu you can choose of variety of pasta, meat and fish and vegetables with fruits.


Day 1:

   Getting up at 7:00 for breakfast.
 
   At 8:00 chosen players are going to work on their positions or hitting in small groups with coaches. Official start of the morning session is at 9:00. By then

4/6/12

Made In Japan: day 5

Day 5:

   The Japan realism in matter of baseball is way more important than I thought. Here baseball is not only a game but also a way of life. The team spirit is everywhere and shows itself all the time. The very polite way of the japanese may not show their real motivation: wanting to win.
 
Always ready...

     I never saw such a dedication to the game. The way they train, the way they respect each other made me think that they won the WBC for some good reason. We don't have to be ashamed by the way we live the game but we may use some of their assets for our own good.. It may be useful.

On day 5 the team played a doubleheader. But I'll not talk about it. I'll talk about how I experienced it as a 3rd base coach. As a 3rd base coach my job is to help the team to score runs by using the weapons available... yes it's a fight ! So players must be ready to execute the different plays I ask for. A coach must also know his players and their abilities to do so. I have to admit that I don't really know them and I had to see by myself what they can do and what they can't do. 
 
    On these two games I wanted to be as effective as possible on every play. But I made the mistake to have a "japanese" way of doing things. It was not as effective as I expected because my players were not.. japanese.. at all. I may have had a chance with them but I guess we needed more practice together and more repetition...

This is by the way a good experience for me in a difficult situation. The japanese showed great skills playing baseball. The teams we faced were really strong and it was also a good experience for our ten players. 

JPF


4/4/12

Made in Japan: day 4


Day 4: It's time for real baseball. The team had to play twice today. (Yesterday the game was postponed because of the rain) Two games versus the High School team of Hakata. The team is still under construction but players showed a lot of improvement in their abilities to play together as one team. The japanese showed us how they can warm -up as a real team with dedication and pride. We basically have the same type of drill in Europe but the way they do it is way more dynamic. Different culture...

Make it quick and accurate.
After a serious and well organised warm-up the team is ready for the game. But the first game was only a one way game. The Team Europe offense was not able to put enough runners on base to put pressure on the japanese pitcher. We had to wait for the last inning to have a hit (a double) and then to score our first and last run of the game. Final score 7 to 1. This said players of our team showed a lot of improvement in their game. It's promising.

Rick pitching during the first game.
After 45mn of lunch break the team started the last game of the day. The team made a really good start and hit the ball hard. It seems that our players finally got their rythm. Plays were well executed but still it was not enough to beat our opponent. The japaneses showed no signs of pressure and continued to play their game. We lost this game by a few runs 6-2. The more we play the more we improve.
Philipp on the mound.
After the games team Europe was invited to train with the japanese team under the supervision of their Head-coach to end the day. To work with them was really exciting and very interesting.

JPF.


4/3/12

Made in Japan: day 2 and 3

Day 2: was dedicated to visit the city of Fukuoka. We had the oppotunity to pay a visit to the local mizuno shop and several other baseball shops. No need to say how we have appreciated this tour. The weather was sunny and allowed us to enjoy the beauty of the Blossom Cherry flowers .

Day 3:

Let's get back to the field ! The first part of the day is dedicated to a  pratice with the  the team of HAKATA high school. The team was divided in three groups to work on fielding, the swing and some conditionning. This High School has no specific training facilities. This explains why, when it rains, the practice take place where room is avalaible. Those high school teams are used to train very hard, sometimes 7 times a week and for more than 3 or 4 hours straight. The name of their game is discipline and effectiveness.

Team Europe hosted by Hakata High School.
The common roster is composed of 18 player. This said 18 extra players train with them with the hope to take the first spot available. Each training is challenging and all players are used to train very hard with respect and dedication to the team, the coach and the High School. They even show great respect to their teammates after each exercice. This is so different from our trainings...

Dry swing drill.
Fielding drill.

After a ceremony of present exchange between both teams, we were supposed to play our first game at 1:00 pm. But due to some rain the field was quickly full of puddles and completly soaked. Therefore the game was postponed.

The Hakata High School field before the rain.




4/2/12

Made In Japan: day one

At 7:30 am after a quick breakfast, we join the Fukusho High School team on their field. They were already warming up in their own typical way. Let's take a look at it with the video below...

video


    After our own warm-up, "Team Europe" faced the japanese team. We decided to give our pitchers a good rythm by letting them pitch an inning each. It helped us to get more informations about the players and their abilities. Our players all showed great potential, however; with pratice and hard work I know they all will reach their full potential. The way our japanese opponent played the game surprised them. Even if we loose that game 13-0, still it was a good start to build a better team.

Both teams and coaches after the game.
 
After the debriefing the whole team headed to the Softbank Hawks Stadium to watch a pro game of the NPB. This was a  very exciting moment for all of us. The show was spectacular

The Softbank Hawks Stadium


The journey continue with the welcome party. Our hosts showed us a great sense of hospitality. We exchange gift and showed them our support after the tragedy of Fukushima. The players shared some songs and plays with their new japanese friend. It was a long day for all of us. Welcome in Japan !

4/1/12

Made in Japan ! Day Zero



    Hello everybody ! My name is Jean-Pascal Furet, I'm a 37 years old french baseball coach in Britanny and I'm lucky enough to be  part of the EBCA Coach Exchange Program for  Japan.

  Here we are. After a day long trip from France to Germany through Seoul the whole Team Europe (players and coaches) reached the japanese city of Fukuoka. Even from the plane, while landing, we were able to see dozens of baseball fields. Later we were told that  135 High School teams were playing in the city !

     After meeting our japanese counterparts, we went to check in the hotel room. Noodles and woods chopstick (small barrel) were at the menu for our first meal in Japan. But it's already time for us to prepare our gears to be ready for tomorrow's morning practice... Let's be ready for 7 am.

In Frankfurt, right before the departure.

3/4/12

Visiting GSU: Final post


Wrapping it up:

Since my stay ends while the team travels to Florida for the Bright House tournament, I want to take a few moments to sum up what I am taking home from a coach’s perspective:
The setup at the D1-level is fantastic. The facilities (playig field, cages, grounds crew, clubhouse etc.) offer top level conditions for player development. Drills can be adjusted to a more european situation with fewer players, but does require the players  helping out since there are rarely enough coches to supervise all groups working at the same time.

The game here is played really fast and coaches need to be up to speed and think ahead. In game coaching and managing is very demanding. I takes great knowledge of one´s players and game situations to make the right move. And then sometimes, you make the right move and it still does not work out.

Just as in European Baseball leagues winning games and teaching the players fundamental techniques need to be handled simultanously, as a coach deals with seniors and freshman at the same time, and still needs to win. The talent level is good yet the differences in readyness to play differ from player to player, especially considering newcomers (freshmen) to the program and older, more seasoned veterans (seniors) in a way comparable to a european team trying to incorporate junior players at the Bundesliga level. In some situations the two players are really similar and in the end it only comes down to which of the two is playing better defense or swinging the bat better.

Also I wanted to take the time to thank GSU, Coach Frady, all the coaches and players for allowing me to join their program while the season was already under way. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to make this trip. I had a blast as everybody could not have been more friendly. 

3/3/12

Visiting GSU Day 4


Day 4: Road trip

Besides the weekend series the GSU team also plays midweek games This week’s matchup has GSU matching up against University of South Carolina Upstate, located in Spartanburg, S.C., a three-hour drive northeast from Atlanta. The Spartans own a 7-1 record and pitch a 6-10 RHP, who was drafted in 2011, but chose to go to school instead.

The young GSU squad plays sloppy defense and almost beats itself in a 4-1 defeat. As a coach I look at how the GSU staff handles the poor performance. The general question is: When do you get criticize, when do you get really loud? Or should you instead try to focus on the (few) positives? This time the coaching staff is not happy and Coach Frady lets his players have it after the game.

In a college environment a coach most likely has more options (than in other environments) to try to receive t a better effort from a player. Every single guy can be benched because there is always a replacement on the bench looking to contribute and getting playing time. That second string might not be as good as the starter, but the gap in ability is definitey smaller than it is in european teams.

A benching also tells a coach much about the character of a player. How does he handle not playing? Does the pounce or does he fight back right away? Does he shift into a higher gear in practice?


3/2/12

Visiting GSU: Day 3


Day 3: Practice

For the coaches the day started in the office. With a long away trip  looming,  the talk is about meal money fort he players, restaurant bookings as well as scouting reports and getting the right pitching matchups against the teams coming up.

I left the coaches office to head down to the weight room, where the players were scheduled to work out for about 45 minutes. The in-season lifting session consists of a whole body workout, that involves some heavier weight for lower body (squats), some band exercises, core/stabilty exercises as well as dumbbell and light shoulder sets. Pitchers and position players go through the same routine.

Players get worked pretty good as the session kicks off with a series of footwork exercises that  have a slight cardio effect also. Right after practice the team heads over to the baseball complex, where Nick Hogan has provided a quality meal through one of the the University´s food partners because during spring break the meal service is limited.

When a practice is scheduled for 1 pm, players

2/27/12

Visiting GSU Day 2


Playing baseball at the collegiate level , especially division 1, requires a lot of administrative planning.  Monday mornings Coach Frady´s assistants update the stats for their own team, teams in their conference and teams that are coming up in the schedule. Also the assistants need to plan their recruiting trips to local high school and Junior Colleges. Calls are made, scouting reports requested from other coaches to get insight on the upcoming opponents. Nick Hogan, Director of Baseball Operations for GSU Baseball, is finalizing planning for spring break trip to Brighthouse Invitational.

I got the chance to sit in the meeting when coaches discuss the weekend series: Which player stood out, who´s going good, who´s struggling?

Visiting Georgia State University Post 1


Got to Atlanta late Saturday night without problems. Sunday the GSU team played the finale of a three game series against Austin Peay, a team from Tennesse. The teams had split the first two games, so the winner could take the series.

I got to the clubhouse a good 4 hours before the game. Meeting all the coaches and being outfitted in Panther-blue, their pitching coach Jason Arnold and me hit the field a little after 9:30 am. Yesterday´s starter hat already gotten in a 25-minute run and would be worked hard in terms of conditioning his legs. I´ll try to explain the routine in a later post.

At 10 am all the pitchers came

1/26/12

EBCA exchange Ronny Heymans Pomona Pitzer.

Last Day in Claremont.

Today will be my last day. Packing in the morning and heading for a jog with assistant coach Nick Sussman.

Yesterday's practice was also the last  one before the season starts. The Sagehens are playing their 1st season game on Friday.
The goal now during practice is to have everything covered before the first game.
1st and 3rd plays are reviewed and executed, pick off plays, baserunning, pop up communication. Pitchers got their conditionning in and hitters took BP.

After practice

1/23/12

EBCA exchange Pomona Pitzer Ronny Heymans

The weekend in LA

No baseball actually on the weekend.

We had double intersquad games to be played on saturday but none of them could be played. I don't know if it's me because I'm from Belgium where it rains every other day but it rained a lot saturday morning, well enough to cancel the full day. I could then enjoy a full day of shopping in a great shopping mall.
On sunday, got to Santa Monica and Venice. Really strange people out there, you have to see it to believe it. Then to Beverly Hills, Rodeo drive and it's incredible shops. it's amazing how clean and nice that place is.



Then on to Hollywood boulevard for the Walk of fame and Kodak theater. Captain America was there, Dark Vador, Super Jamie and Jack Sparrow where on hand.

1/20/12

EBCA exchange program Ronny Heymans

Day 4

Good day today!

Shopping at Sports Authority
Back for lunch at noon in the language dining hall and just got the news that I'm going to the LA Clippers - Timberwolves game...sweeeeet.

Practice was earlier and we did scrimmage game
I again threw early BP for 45'
Here's a video of the team warming up, pretty cool ending.

EBCA exchange Pomona Pitzer Ronny Heymans

Day 3 :

Morning dedicated to shopping. Coach Pericolosi picked me up to go to Dick's sporting goods. Great sho,p lots of quality items which is not usual.
Mexican eating for lunch in a place where tortillas are home made in front of you. The bomb.
Practice in the afternoon.
I threw a part of early BP, it seems that my arm is getting back in shape. While some pitchers where still long tossing, the majority of them participated in a sort of 21 outs : simulated situations where the coach is fungoing from the mound to all fields. A great drill because everybody is involved : outfielders have to chase gappers and hit the cut-off man, infielders move around for relays, cut-offs and base coverage and back-ups, pitchers back up bases and baserunners work on conditionning leads, breaks and turns.
 These baserunners go full out, no semi running, all sliding hard. Definitely different from europe!
Then back again for batting practice. Several groups get to rotate between hitting live, hitting in the cage, defense, conditionning.

Back home, shower and done for the day!

See you tomorrow guys!

Ronny Heymans


1/19/12

EBCA Exchange Pomona Pitzer Ronny Heymans

Day 2

This is what you can call a good long day.
It all started with some testing of players on the mile run.  Players  had to do this test at 6:30 AM . So I also showed up at the same time (5:30 wake up call)
Cold, still dark, you got to love the game…
At 7:00 AM weight lifting for 45’ and conditioning for 15’. Actually, when players are about to start their classes, they all have already done a good amount of work.
I then came back home and took the bike to drive around Claremont and see where we would head the next day for shopping in the morning.
Lunch at 12:00 in what is I believe a great initiative : A dining hall is devoted to language : You eat for free if you speak the language that is designed at that table. French, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Swahili, all the languages you can imagine. You get to know people and learning a language by discussing in an unformal way.
Early practice was scheduled at 2:15. I threw BP for about 35’ My first BP of the season. It didn’t went too bad despite some regular misses.
Then the official practice began at 3:15, 2 ex-Sagehens, now pro players are also showing for practice. 1 is pitching in the mariners organization and the other one is short stop in the Red Sox farm system.
•    Run stretch and throw
•    PFP where all infielders, catchers and pitchers are involved.
•    Individual work : I also got to work with some infielders for the first part and a little bit with the catchers.
•    I watched the pitchers do their mound work for the day
•    Then regular BP in groups where I get to hit groundballs to infielders.
End of the practice at 5:15
I need to mention this but it’s a great group of players, disciplined, helping each other, thankful for whatever you do for them. A great group of kids to work with.
Lots of players on the team talks to me about Nick Frederick who played for the Angels last year. Nick it seams that you left some good memories over here!
Back home for shower, and getting ready for the big basket ball game! The rivalry between the Pomona Pitzer and CMS, cross street rivals. Both teams are unbeaten.
A thriller in a packed house! Both teams played solid defense but Pomona lost after scoring a 3 pointer with 3 seconds left. CMS just got the best in what finished with a  55-57 mark. Things heated up at the end, sign that it was really tensed.
Tomorrow is another day…

Ronny Heymans


1/17/12

EBCA Exchange : Pomona Pitzer Ronny Heymans

Arrival day:

It was a long trip...
25 hours to make it to Los Angeles.
After a lay over in Philadelphia and an extra 2 hours delay I finally land at Los Angeles international airport.
The Beckett familly is waiting for me. Lisa is working at Pomona College as senior administrator. Dennis works in the LA area as an operations manager. They have 3 childrens, Danny Jo who plays soccer at Chico state, Holly she plays volleyball at Navy university. They also have a son, Henry, which plays ice hockey in Buffalo, New-York.
I get to have a taste at the American culture by  eating at In and Out burger restaurant, apparently a very good reference.

Day 1 :

Guess what? Blue sky, nice temperatures, great setting with the mountains. Frank, the head coah of the teams tours me around the campus. The baseball field, football fields, the 2 inside gyms, swimming pool, tennis courts, track and field, everything you can imagine.
Pre practice work consists of live BP. Since it's only the second practice of the season it's good to have those extra cuts to get the timing in. All players now are gathering and getting ready for the warmup. Good warmup, arms get loose, and there is the infield outfield. Afternoon practice will be mostly for pitchers to get their innings in. All 8 pitchers get to do their work by the time it gets too dark.
Practice is over time now for some mexican food... Got to ask Frank again what we had I don't remember exactly but it was really good!

Tomorrow will start early... 6:30 AM with the team testing for the mile run. Who said enjoy your holiday??? Then back again for the pre-practice at 2PM.