We have nine players who will be experiencing Opening Day for the first time Thursday. It is going to be a special day for them.My first Opening Day was with Seattle in 1987. When you break with the club out of Spring Training for the first time, you're going to
We have nine players who will be experiencing Opening Day for the first time Thursday. It is going to be a special day for them.
My first Opening Day was with Seattle in 1987. When you break with the club out of Spring Training for the first time, you're going to be very excited. It's monumental, because not everybody can do it. It's something everyone dreams about. When you finally do it, it's a little surreal and, at times, it feels like a blur because it just goes by so fast.
I had to wait until 1993 for my second Opening Day in the big leagues. I had been bouncing around for a few years when I finally got back with the Florida Marlins. I was more elated because you're older and you realize that being up here for Opening Day doesn't happen every day. You appreciate it more. It's always surreal. Major League Baseball is a surreal life.
It isn't just the players. Last year, two of our coaches, Nick Capra and Curt Hasler, got to experience Opening Day for the first time. I wanted our team to know how special it was for them. The Major League arena starts in the Minor Leagues. It takes a lot of good coaching to develop these players. It's somewhat of a thankless job for the coaches. I wanted to acknowledge all the hard work Nick and Curt put in. They've been through all the battles for a long time. Being part of Opening Day for the first time was just as exciting for them as it was for the players.
As a manager, it always is a thrill to line up with my team for the introductions. I look at my players just like I look at my kids. We're living through our players. The game is about them. We have pride in them, we have joy with them, we suffer with them, and everything in between.
It's one of those things where from day one of Spring Training, everyone tries to get themselves ready for the season, to be able to put your best foot forward every day. You're hoping you can do everything necessary to become a true family as a baseball team.
I would expect some of our young guys to have some butterflies on Opening Day. Everyone does. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But after the first pitch, the first swing, all of a sudden, you come into a kind of calm. I don't think these guys are going to get too excited. They're very focused, and they prepared well. They understand exactly where they are and the job they have to do.
For the manager, there is a lot of hoopla on Opening Day. I understand it's all part of the day. Once the game starts, that's when it is the easiest. I'm back in the arena. That's the most comfortable place for me to be.
Opening Day is the beginning of a long journey. Every spring they say, "Hope springs eternal." You have the optimism, and you're looking forward to all the positives.
But during the season, when you hit that little valley, that wall, I always try to tell the players to revert back to the day we broke camp. What did it feel like? What were you thinking about? What were your expectations? Those expectations haven't been removed from you. You have to go back and remember what they're all about and continue to move forward.