WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Hello everyone, I'm Jensen Lewis, and I'm thrilled for all of you to get a peek into my first Spring Training as a professional baseball player.
I'm originally from Cincinnati and grew up both in Cincinnati and Medina, Ohio, as a youngster. I've been a diehard Indians fan since I was young, and it is an absolute dream come true to be playing for my favorite Major League team. Getting to step on the field at The Jake last summer was a dream of mine, and hopefully in the coming years, I'll be able to play there, as well!
Last year, I finished my career at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and started my pro career with the Class A Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Being so close to Medina provided a double bonus for my family and I. Getting to play in front of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, along with my friends and immediate family made it so enjoyable. The fans made coming to the park every day a lot of fun, and the guys on the team were fantastic. I've made a lot of good friends in just a short amount of time.
In getting to early camp here in Winter Haven, I've received a chance to get back in touch with my teammates and catch up on everybody's offseason. As weird as it may seem, it feels like only yesterday that we stepped off the field in Mahoning Valley and packed our bags for home.
My first impressions of Winter Haven were pretty close to what my friend and former Vanderbilt teammate, Jeremy Sowers, described to me. Driving past the field, I took a sneak peek at the facilities and where my training will take place for the next six weeks. It's amazing that almost 180 players will take to the fields around Chain of Lakes Park and go through various drills and scrimmages while staying organized and ultimately getting into shape for the season.
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My first couple days have been pretty laid back so far. The first day featured a lot of medical tests and other check-in items that the organization takes every player through to clear them to play. Getting out into a uniform and playing catch in sunny, 80-degree weather is a welcome change from training in Nashville, where the temperatures hovered around the 30s for my last couple weeks. I've never had my name on the back of a jersey, so when I came into the locker room, I immediately took a picture of my Indians jersey. After our medical tests, we went through some stretching and ran the Warrior Run, an 850-yard shuttle run that must be completed in three minutes. It tested all of us pretty well mentally and physically, and we're all glad it's over with!
On our way back to the Holiday Inn, my roommate for early camp, Ryan Edell, and I stopped at the local Publix grocery store to stock up on some deli meats, Gatorade, chips and some cereal. With the long hours at the field, we always come home craving some food. Nothing some lunch meat and chips can't handle! We spent our first night physically exhausted and headed to bed early, ready for an early morning of meetings.
The second day started off great, beginning with a meeting with director of player development John Farrell and pitching coordinator Dave Miller. They basically laid out my roadmap for the year and some goals to work toward. Excited and ready to get to work, we went to a quick meeting for all the pitchers, then out to the field to throw and do PFP (pitchers' fielding practice). Former big leaguer Scott Radinsky took us through our PFP drills and kept us focused on some of the small, important parts of fielding our position. With our on-the-field drills complete, we got changed into some lifting clothes and went through a 30-minute lift. Our strength coaches took to us individually, making sure our form and mechanics worked correctly. Not bad for a second day at the office!
Finishing our lift, we took off from the field and headed home for a quick nap. My evening featured an Orlando Magic NBA game with Jeremy Sowers, Chris Gimenez and Josh Sowers (Jeremy's twin brother, who plays for the Toronto organization). The Magic won, and we capped our day with a little dessert from Sonic. It's been a whirlwind first two days, but so far, so good in Winter Haven!
I look forward to another edition next week and any questions you all may have. Send them in to: Jensen.email@example.com
. Go Tribe!