The Rocky Road of Spring Training: Minor League Baseball

by Ashley on March 29, 2010

Where to begin?? It has been a while since my last blog…I guess I got carried away with life and the wonderful distractions of it.  Since my last post we have had many exciting things happen down here!

First, Dustin’s parents, Donna and Harvey, came to visit! I love visitors :-)…

Where to begin….Dustin and I usually never eat out (or at least try not to); this all started first last summer in Orlando because we were the newlyweds with very little cash.  Now it is less about the money and more about health.  It really disappoints me how many unnecessary additions are in most restaurant meals.  A chicken salad, yes, salad, at some restaurants now can often be the worst thing on the menu.  No wonder people can’t lose those extra pounds. When Donna and Harvey came into town, we set this aside, and enjoyed a new, great restaurant every night! It was nice to have a week off from cooking 😉

We went to a few games, sat by the pool, and they even got to visit our church.   It was so great to see them, even though the time went by so fast!

With one week left in spring training, we have had a little set back… The song lyrics “I will walk by faith, even though I cannot see…” have never been so meaningful.  On Saturday, Dustin was scheduled to throw 2 innings in the game vs. the Tigers.  I was so excited about the game, please remember it has been a long 2 years since Dustin has pitched (and even longer since he has pitched healthy).  That Saturday morning I couldn’t stop smiling because I knew that day was going to be a good day.  I got ready, grabbed some cash so that I could take Dustin out for a great celebratory meal after what I hoped would be a successful 2 innings, and headed out the door.  I walked in the game about 2 minutes early, saw him throw his last 2 or 3 warm up pitches and the game began.  Dustin seemed to look very comfortable on the mound; I guess this wasn’t the case.  He threw a few balls, a couple of strikes, gave up one hit, and then another.  After the second hit, he looked to the coaches and shook his head.  I knew something wasn’t right.  The coaches and infielders met him at the mound and suddenly in the first inning, after 3 batters, Dustin pulled himself out of the game.   He walked by me with his trainer, Troy, with a frustrating look on his face.  One of his teammates looked at me with a nervous look and patted his shoulder, letting me know that the pain was back.

After about four hours in the training room Dustin met me at the car and just said that it doesn’t feel right.  He said that there is something pinching after every throw. Tears formed in my eyes not because I was sad, but rather confused, frustrated, and lost.  Dustin is 19 months out of surgery and still feels pain.  I just feel bad for him; I can’t imagine having nonstop pain in my shoulder day in and day out.  Dustin always sets his goals very high with baseball and each year he has always met his goal.  In the past spring trainings, he set a goal to make a higher team each year, this year he made his goal just to break with a team this Saturday (April 3).

After this set back, we will now stay in Orlando in hopes for future health and continued rehab.  Dustin gets next week off before his extended rehab starts so we are going to head to Destin to meet my family and enjoy some time at the beach.  I hope this break will clear his mind, refresh his soul, and that he will come back even more determined than before.

This morning the most amazing thing happened.  Right after breakfast, the guys are usually out the door in a hurry.  If you know Dustin, you know that he leaves very little extra time for anything in the mornings.   James was reading his Bible, which is a normal occurrence but today he began taking notes.  Dustin commented on his note taking and James looked up and responded, “Just looking up verses on encouragement.”  Little did we know he was doing this for us.  He said, “I just feel bad for you guys.”  For me, I just feel bad for Dustin.  I know there is no reason to feel bad however, because this is all part of our plan.  Every person I have ever met that has been great- always has a great story.  I’m hoping this is a part of Dustin’s great story.

James read us the following verses…

“Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.”  Heb. 2:18.

God has been in our frustrating shoes before- to an even greater extent.  If anyone understands, it is He.

“Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking and you will find.  Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks the door will be opened.  If your children ask you for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” Matthew 7: 7-11

I really like this verse.  It is so true.  If even we know how to give good gifts, I can only imagine the good gifts God can give.  James made a good point that maybe God is trying to perfect mine and Dustin’s faith before we head back to the game.  That is okay with me and I know it would be to Dustin as well.  This morning Dustin said, “I know this is the entire reason for this injury.  Before (the injury) I put baseball above everything.  It was most important.  Now I know there are more important things.” So, Dustin and I will be here in Orland for a little while longer…he will not only continue to rehab his shoulder, but we will rehab our faith as well.  His goal is to be back before the All-Star break, but maybe through God we can be back before that!

Now we have to find somewhere else to live, as our lease is up in the place we are currently living… one of the joys of baseball, temporary housing.  I guess I get to enjoy a few more ‘market Sundays’ than expected but hey, it’s all a part of this crazy, yet beautiful thing we call life. As I begin packing this place up, I remain excited about what the future holds…like I always say, “We never know what tomorrow holds.”  Just last week we planned on spending Easter in Myrtle Beach (high A) or Jackson, Mississippi (AA), but now we get to spend it with my family, on the gulf…life doesn’t get better than that 🙂

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