So here it is, the moment I been waiting for ever since my release from the Phillies on the 29th of March 2010, heading on a plane back to Florida for Spring Training.
The journey to this point has been hard, harder then most people would think, I came home and immediately got to work on a chance to play professional baseball. I was lucky enough to be able throw in front of scouts as soon as I returned, the results were encouraging, but knew a contract wasn't going to be handed to me that easily. After the bullpen Glenn Williams spoke to me, and offered me a spot in the NSW High Performance Program, an offer I quickly snapped up with open arms. I also acquired the services of Craig Stoves to help me sign another contract, and the help and advice he gave me was invaluable throughout the whole process of resigning. With their help I worked my way onto the roster at the Major League Academy, I wasn't on scholarship so I had to pay my own way there, and if I was going to pay to be there, I was going to make it money well spent.
I walked into the gym on Monday the 12th of April, weighing a staggering 104.1kg, something I am quite embaressed about. It started off as 1 hour gym session a few times a week, as well as attending training at Blacktown Olympic Park with the High Performance Squad. I was training with kids 5 years younger then me, so I did feel like the odd one out at times. I knew I would have to get fit and get in shape, at that first training session, I could only manage to run 8 poles before I was too tired to keep on going. I slowly increased my workload, By the end of May, I was in the gym 5 times a week for 3 hours at a time. Doing an hour of cardio, lifting for an hour and then another hour of cardio. Also running 4 and 5 laps of the Blacktown Olympic Park Baseball Complex, and even one night running 40 poles. On the 27th of May I stepped on the scales in my gym weighing 87.4kg, feeling stronger and fitter then I had ever felt before.
On the 28th of May I made my way to the Major League Academy, hoping all my hard work had paid off. My first two outings in relief were quite shaky, allowing 2 runs in 5 innings, but later settled down in the starters role. While I was putting up good results, I wasn't catching the eye of many scouts there. So I just kept doing what I knew how to do, which was pitch, and not worry about anything else. There was one outing that stood out to me, and that was my start on June 18th, I threw 5 Innings, for 1 hit, 0 walks and 8 strikeouts. The reason this stood out, is because my change up was the reason for all 8 strike outs. After that game I got a call from Howie Norsetter from the Twins, he was asking general questions about what I plan to do with my career. I really didn't think much of it, until he called again later asking to meet with him. Later that night I was in the lobby of the hotel at the Radisson Resort, and spoke to Howie about baseball, and about how the Twins operate and how they develop their pitchers in the organization. I thought that this was a good sign, it was as if he was pitching me the Twins organisation, after we spoke he said they were interested in me but wanted to see more, I spoke to Craig after, and told him that the Twins were interested and he got the ball rolling for me. Talking to other clubs and fishing out any other teams, after a while we spoke and decided, if the Twins offered me a contract, that I should take it.
A few days later, on the 21st of June, I got a call from Howie while I was out to dinner with some other players, he said we would like to speak with me in the lobby when I got the chance. Since I was out with the boys, I had to wait until we all went back to the hotel together. Time was ticking by and I got back to the hotel just before curfew and immediately made my way up to the lobby. I was met there by Glenn Williams, Craig Stoves, Howie Norsetter and Brad Steil, who is a staff Member from the Twins Minor League Front Office. As I sat down, Glenn Williams shook my hand and said "Congratulations" and thought, alright, whats going on here? Then Howie said "We haven't told him yet, but I do believe congratulations is in order". I looked at Howie, looked back and Craig, and was just in shock, didn't know what to think. Craig just smiled at me and I looked back at Howie, he then said "We would like to offer you a contract to play for the Minnesota Twins". At that moment, I can't explain all the emotions that were going through me, that moment is what all the last few months of work was for, to receive that second chance. I remember shaking hands and saying "yes". It felt like I was floating on air while I was in the lobby. As I walked back to my room that night almost an hour past curfew, I remember just walking with my arms raised in the air in disbelief, that I couldn't believe it had happened.
I received my contract the next morning, and they were signed and sent off before the end of the day. Since the 22nd of June I have been waiting to start this second chance, now it's time to go to work.