Extended Spring Training: Baseball Hell

Extended Spring Training: Baseball Hell

What is extended spring training? Extended spring training is exactly what is says, an extension of spring training which lasts from April until the middle of June. Extended spring training hosts a variety of different baseball players. Players that are in extended spring training range from players that have been injured, players that need development, but ultimately it is spring training for those going to a short season A or rookie ball team. But to players that have actually been to extended spring training it something completely different. I myself like to refer to it as “baseball hell.” Before I proceed, let me get one thing straight. I have enjoyed every single second I have played professional baseball. This article is to provide you with what extended spring training is all about from my own experiences.

1. Stats aren’t recorded
Just like in spring training, extended spring training stats don’t go on the back of your baseball card. Some players are thankful for this, but for others it can be frustrating. A player could go 4-4 and well yes they had a good day at the plate but these games are just like scrimmages, they don’t count for anything.

2. It gets extremely hot in Arizona
In spring training the temperature in March is perfect in Arizona. By the time May hits, forget about it. It is close to 100 degrees every day. Not the most ideal playing conditions.

3. There are ZERO baseball fans that show up to extended spring training games.
I have seen more fans at a single high school JV game than I did all of the games combined in extended. Why does that matter? As a player you live to play in front of big crowds. You get adrenaline rushes; it’s exciting, and fun to play in front of big crowds. It is tough to get adrenaline rushes, excited, and have fun in front of crowd of 5 people.

4. The small things that you don’t get during extended spring training.
During spring training you get fed breakfast and lunch. In extended just breakfast and you better get there first because they won’t be making any extra breakfast items. You have to find your own housing in extended. Unlike spring training where they put you in a hotel you have to find your own housing to live for 2 ½ months. Lastly, there was Gatorade and water at every practice field in spring training. In extended Gatorade is only for the games, something that for some reason really irritated me. Yes, all these things are small and not a big deal but over a course of a couple months it is the little things like these that get on your nerves.

Extended spring training was one of the most mentally grueling times in my baseball career. You may ask why? My rookie year was one of the best years of my baseball career. Come to the last couple days during my first spring training I was told I was going to extended spring training. Was I upset? Absolutely. Was I mad? Absolutely. I like to consider myself a positive person, and I wasn’t going to let going to extended get to me. The way I looked at it, I was going to be the first one to leave when somebody gets injured or gets released from one of the long season A ball teams. The year that I had and looking around at the other pitchers that surrounded me I looked like a dead lock on being the first one out of there. But instead I watched pitcher after pitcher leave before I did when somebody went down or got released. It was frustrating. And what was even more frustrating was the success I was having during extended spring training. During my time in extended I threw 16 scoreless innings. At one point in time I had thrown 7 perfect innings in relief. But unfortunately as I stated earlier, these are innings that will never be accounted for. After nearly 2 months it was finally my turn, I got the call to get out of baseball hell! Something I was very thankful for! During my second year of pro ball I struggled with control and ended up posting a 4.75 ERA in 41.2 innings of work. Curious to know what 16 scoreless innings does to a 4.75 ERA? It turns it into a 3.47, not too shabby.

Baseball is a very humbling sport. One minute you are on top of the world the next minute you are in the gutter. Although going to extended was not in my plans, it was a humbling experience. It humbled me as a baseball player and it made me appreciate the little things again. Such as the ice cold Gatorade that was in our dugout every game!

-Jason Van Skike

Co-founder of APL
Current pro baseball player

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