MILWAUKEE -- Hours before the Brewers and Reds took the field on Friday, Miller Park was full of Little Leaguers roaming the outfield alongside reliever Michael Blazek and living out the dream of playing on a big league field as a part of the PLAY campaign.A national public awareness camp
MILWAUKEE -- Hours before the Brewers and Reds took the field on Friday, Miller Park was full of Little Leaguers roaming the outfield alongside reliever Michael Blazek and living out the dream of playing on a big league field as a part of the PLAY campaign.
A national public awareness camp to promote the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle for children, PLAY will host events in all 30 Major League ballparks in 2016. On Friday afternoon, Blazek and members of the Brewers medical staff led more than 100 participants through various stations. The stations touched on healthy eating, injury prevention, conditioning and the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.
The participants each received T-shirts that read "All Me PED Free" on the back and had the opportunity to get autographs from Blazek afterward. The right-hander addressed the participants following about two hours of going through the stations with them, using his story as a 35th-round Draft pick to stress hard work.
"The way I look at how hard I had to work to get to where I'm at, it wasn't easy for me to get here," Blazek said. "Being that late-round Draft pick, you don't get the same amount of opportunities as the higher [picks], but you still get a chance. I was thankful to get at least one opportunity at the time and I took advantage of it."
Blazek taught the youngsters how to grip various pitches while also sharing important tips about keeping their arms healthy.
"I wanted them to know the importance of command and not trying to do too much out there, especially at that age," Blazek said. "The biggest thing about it is just having fun and throwing strikes."
Members of the Milwaukee athletic training staff participating included Dan Wright, David Yeager, Kevan Creighton, Josh Seligman and Roger Caplinger. Donald Hooton Jr. of the Taylor Hooton Foundation and Joey Vandever of the Henry Schein Cares Foundation -- both of which lend support to the PLAY program -- also helped lead the camp.
"The kids seemed like they enjoyed it, which was nice," Blazek said. "A lot of kids out there were smiling and laughing, which is how it should be."
Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.