January 21, 2011
Day 2 here in New Zealand was a little more relaxed. I was able to get a good night of sleep here at the hotel before waking up to get a quick workout and lift in.
What has made the hotel experience a little more fun is that Lupe Fiasco is staying right across the hall from me. We were actually on the same flight to New Zealand and had a chance to finally meet (he is a Chicago native). I wasn't able to make it to his show here, but I have been able to hang out with him some.
After a nice workout and breakfast, I then went over to the field to work with some members of the New Zealand 16-and-under team. I am very impressed by the skill level of some of these kids. Two of them are actually moving to Seattle on Tuesday to go to school and play baseball.
The great thing is that I am able to get my baseball workouts in while working with these kids, which is something I haven't been able to do on past ambassador trips since they have taken place in November or December.
I had a good stretch and sprint series, and many of the kids also took part in this. So while I am showing them how we prepare for our games, I am able to also work.
After some long toss, I then went station to station with the kids, showing them some baserunning and fielding techniques. After this was when I got my hitting work in while also giving them instruction.
I first hit off a tee to warm up, and then I had one of the kids soft toss some balls at me to hit. This time of year, I am usually not looking at live pitching. And for the most part, everything I do hit is off a tee. Not only does having this soft toss help get me working on my swing again and seeing the ball hit the bat, but it also is slow enough for the kids to see my mechanics and technique. They get to see first hand the differences between a good swing and a bad swing.
So far, there has been a good deal of media surrounding this trip. There seems to be a lot of excitement and buzz about my arrival, which can only help grow the sport more. Baseball New Zealand has clearly put a lot of time and effort into this trip. I have also met a lot of big donors through this group, and they are ready to push baseball to the next level here.
Saturday I actually get to hang out a little bit with the national softball team, the Black Sox. That should be a lot of fun, sharing stories and techniques with them. Then I am off to some more clinics as other youth that aren't on the specific 16-and-under team will be present.
I hope you guys are staying warm in the states! I know I am over here.