Fresh from the U.S.

2014-09-17 00:00

FORMER Glenwood headboy Callan Pearce (19) is soaking up some Durban sun as he reflects on his first six months as a professional baseball player.

Offered a seven-year contract with the Minnesota Twins, Pearce departed for Fort Myers, Florida, at the beginning of April this year and has returned a more mature and skilled player.

“Exciting best sums it up,” he said. “The whole process is unbelievable and professional. While I have and continue to learn a lot, I’m loving every second and am hungry for more.”

The day after arriving in the U.S., Pearce had medical tests and it was down to business. “Everything was waiting for me. For the first month, I stayed in a hotel and from there, moved to the team’s academy for the rest of the season,” he said.

Playing in the rookie team in the GCL (Gulf Coast League), Pearce enjoyed some extended spring training before the league started in mid June, running to the end of August.

“I had an idea of the baseball culture and what it would be like having been to the U.S. previously,” said Pearce. “It’s competitive with plenty of challenges.”

Pearce was there for baseball and the training was structured accordingly. “There were some players from Latin America, another from the Netherlands and we played Monday to Saturday, with Sunday the only day off,” he said. “Training was done in the morning with games in the afternoon.

“I liked to get to training early to stretch and loosen up. My day ran from 6.30 am to 3 pm.

“Running and gym work was involved, with trainers overseeing everything. Structured programmes were strictly adhered to. As a pitcher, my right arm was my most prized asset,” said Pearce. “I never batted as such, just pitched and after a match, I had to rest. The normal routine was for me to play every fourth game, allowing my arm to recover. Pitching is my business and that’s what I do.”

Playing in the Rookie League has ignited a steely resolve in Pearce to move up the ranks. “At the end of my seven-year contract, I want to be playing in the big leagues, but it’s a step-by-step process,” he said. “We had a young team and battled somewhat in the league but it was all about learning and experience.

“The coaches, regardless of what level you play, are dedicated to the game, knowledgable and to be respected.”

Highlights of the season for Pearce included his first pro win as a pitcher, against the GCL Red Sox and a triple play (three out on one pitch) at the end of the season, against Tampa Bay Rays.

“It’s surreal to be paid for playing. We get paid every two weeks but the realisation for me is how much it takes to progress through the ranks,” said Pearce. “Right now, just playing for me, the environment, the opportunity — that’s what it’s all about.”

Pearce’s Future Plans

Is heading for Cape Town from the beginning of October until mid-November to play for the Belville Tigers, thereby staying in shape, learning and getting game time.

Will head back to the U.S. in January to start spring training and get into the pre-season programme earlier.

Wants to move up to the Eliza­bethton Twins Minor League next year.

Lifestyle in the U.S.

Gets breakfast, lunch and supper daily. This enables nutrition to be monitored and ensure healthy food is being eaten.

In spare time, goes to movies, malls and the beach. Enjoys the white sand, and the waves are not too bad.

Has adapted well to the American lifestyle and having been home since the beginning of September, is itching to return.

Has been free of injury.

Has blended in well with the American boys.

Coming from South Africa, some interesting questions on the country and continent have been asked.

League

GCL comprises 60 matches and a large squad allows regular player rotation. Pearce played 18 games which, although doesn’t sound like much, was a fair share, remembering the trusty pitching arm’s recovery time.

There are fellow South Africans playing in various teams in the different leagues.

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