Don’t think I have forgotten about writing. Its been a weird couple of months since my last entry. I am still retired from playing baseball. What also led me to this decision was my arm was “barking” again. I ended up having another shoulder surgery in April and I’m currently still rehabbing it. Although I don’t plan on playing again, you never know down the line and if I end up in the coaching world I would need to be able to throw BP. The doctor was very surprised I was even throwing with the results from my MRI. Not to make any excuses, but maybe that is why my control was so erratic in Venezuela this past Winter.
As I contemplated about my next step in my career I was approached by my agent who offered me a job within his sports agency. This was an amazing opportunity I could not pass up. It keeps me involved in the game and I think I can be beneficial to the company in helping recruit players and help the players with the experiences I have gone through in my career.
I hope everyone is doing well from all over the world. Enjoy the summer and I’ll do my best to get pictures up and more updates. Remember I always enjoy hearing from everyone. Feel free to leave any comments or questions.
This past weekend I made a trip up to central Florida to visit some friends and old teammates. I knew the Tigers had a camp day which usually entails an early morning workout (ie: PFP, BP, infield/outfield) and then an afternoon game. I found out at the last moment that they were just going to go straight into an inter-squad at 10am, so I shot up there real early. How early? I woke up at 4am and was out the door by 4:30.
Once arriving in Lakeland, I was a little skeptical to walk into the locker room. It wasn’t because I didn’t feel welcomed. I just didn’t want to bother the guys while they were at work. Luckily I got their early enough before their day started and ran into all my old teammates and coaches. Of course the first thing half of them say to me is “Hey Druck, what are you selling? Can you get me an Ipad?”. Most of my teammates remember me for being the wheeling and dealing guy. It was a treat to catch up with them, see how their off season went, and how camp is going for them now.
While at Tigers camp I got to see an Independent traveling all star team play against the Connecticut Tigers. The indy ball team included ex-Tigers Cesar Nicolas and David Espinosa. They also had Jon Hunton who lead the Venezuelan league in saves this past winter.
As I walked around the quad-plex of fields, I saw the young Venezuelan fireballer Bruce Rondon throw. Every reading on my radar gun kept going higher and higher with each pitch. 98, 99, 100, 101. This kid had some plus stuff which was very effortless.
I really want to thanks the entire Detroit Tigers staff for being so welcoming and allowing me to come back to and catch up with everyone. I had a great time and watched some good baseball. This is a very tough part of camp with coaches and coordinators having to make roster cuts. Best of luck to all my old teammates. One more week of Spring Training left. Stay healthy and make a team.
Feel free to email me any questions, leave comments etc and rate and share the log. Thanks
As many of you know by now I have hung up my cleats. This has been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I am very proud of what I have accomplished and I have no regrets.
I first let my immediate family and agent know about my decision, and then of course I announced it to the social media world. I really want to thank my family, teammates, friends, coaches, and of course fans for all of your support throughout my career. You all have had a special meaning in my heart and have helped me play this wonderful game with respect and admiration.
This game has allowed me to travel to all over the world and meet wonderful people and witness different languages, cultures, and food. The pictures and memories I have will last a lifetime. I have had so many fond memories on and off the field.
I went farther in this game than I could have ever imagined. When I played in high school I would have never envisioned playing in college or even further than that. All my teammates throughout the years have a special meaning to me. I have learned so much from them. We had some of the best moments all over the world. We have laughed, cried, and celebrated championships in beer and cheap champagne soaked locker rooms. I wish nothing but the best to you all and please continue playing this great game as long as you can.
My travels has also allowed me to interact with fans, local communities, and give back to wonderful charities. I am very appreciative of the connections and friends I have made through those outlets. I always knew there was a bigger picture than the actual game being played. I always tried to give back and make people smile at community events or at the ballpark before a game.
I am working out the details of my next business venture which will be within the sporting world and I plan to continue to blog and tweet. Please feel free to leave any comments and questions.
As the regular season comes to an end in Venezuela, so does my season here. I was not added to the playoff roster by the Tigres de Aragua. I will be headed home shortly this week. I would like to thank everyone involved with the Tigres especially the front office staff, Manuel and Rafael. They have been very grateful and have gone past expectations in making my stay in Venezuela extremely pleasurable.
Of course I want to thank my teammates and coaching staff for helping me and playing their hearts out behind me. This is a very special bunch of guys and I only wish them the best going forward in the playoffs. I loved playing with them, listening to them play tambour music, and just spending time with them sharing stories in the locker room.
Finally, I want to thank the fans. Every country I go to I see how much the fans adore and support their teams. Never have I seen so much support for their team as I have here in Venezuela. The fans love their team and their sport here. These three months of baseball here during the winter are like the Olympics to the fanaticos. They love the game and respect it. They want you to perform well each and every time. Their passion for the game is unexplainable. You need to see it in person to appreciate it. No video or picture can explain the excitement. Every game from the very first feels like the 7th game of the world series. It really was a treat to come here and play baseball and witness it in person.
I hope to come back next season and perform better. I know my statistics weren’t good this season, but I know I can perform here at a competitive level and get better.
This team has been through much adversity with the kidnapping of Wilson Ramos, to the death of a great player Rosman Garcia. I know they are strong willed and have the passion to win and push each other to win. Arriba Tigres!
Thanks also to all the teammates and security staff for calling me Willie Chirino’s all season. I loved it and laughed non stop trying to sing “Mediaa Negras” for you all.
Please leave comments, share the blog, and ask questions. Happy New Year!
With 58 of 63 games played we have put ourselves in a situation to determine our own fate for the playoffs. We need to win these next two games in Lara and Caracas to lock in a playoff birth. We have had a nine game winning streak, as well as a six game losing streak this season. There have been many ups and downs, good times and bad, and some injuries have plagued us this season. But now is the time to make something of this 2011-2012 season. No more excuses, no more pep talks, no regrets. We have a great team and I believe we will push through this and make it to the playoffs. Our next two games are on the road so I hope the Tigres fanaticos follow us on our road trip and help support our championship run.
Hi guys its been awhile since my last entry and I apologize to all of you. Currently the Tigres are two games out of first place. This league is very tough and everyone beats up on each other. At one point this season we won nine games in a row and didn’t seem to gain any ground in the standings. Then we follow that streak up with a six game losing streak and somehow stay within the top four teams. The key for us in December is to stay positive and get as many wins we can so that we can lock up a spot for the playoffs. The playoffs are a round robin style format with five of the eight teams in the league qualifying. They also have a four round draft for the qualifying teams to choose players from the non qualifying teams. If last nights close game against Magallanes is anything like a playoff atmosphere I’m really excited for the playoffs. I can not explain how passionate the fans and players are for this game. We ended up losing 3-2. It was a great game and came down to the bottom of the 9th, but we just ran out of outs.
I have been wanting to post new videos and pictures, but my phones camera has stopped working. Also the internet at the hotel has been sketchy. I’ll try to get the videos and photos up when I head back to the US this weekend for a friends wedding. I’ll be back in Venezuela on Tuesday.
A bunch of our teammates recently got signed. Wifredo Ledezma signed with the Dodgers, Luis Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte both signed with the Rangers, Darin Downs with the Tigers, Vinnie Rottino the Mets, and Victor Moreno with a team in Mexico. And finally Lastings Milledge has signed with the Japanese Professional baseball league with the Tokyo Swallows.
This past week in Aragua was a huge music festival. Everyday during the week there was a concert that went on all day and night. Some of the artists that were in attendance were Wisin y Yandel, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Enrique Iglesias. The concert took place at the soccer stadium directly next to our field. The traffic to and from the field was no bueno.
Game tonight in Caracas against the Leones. Ariba Los Tigres!
Arriving back in Maracay at 3am after a sweep of Margarita usually has a nice feeling to it with players singing on the plane, telling jokes, and playing cards. This trip was a little different after hearing the startling news of the kidnapping of our teammate and friend Wilson Ramos. News traveled throughout the dugout in our second game in Margarita about the suspected kidnapping. It was a very tough situation for many players to hear this and focus on the game. Players stayed attached to their phones following the game to hear if there was any positive news. There has been similar situations in the past with other MLB stars, but never was the actual player taken. It was usually a family member.
We are all praying and hoping for a speedy and safe return of our teammate. He was in our dugout last week at home hanging out and sharing stories with us about the big leagues. We know that our team along with the Venezuelan police are doing everything they can to alleviate the situation. Many friends and family members asked me about the team and my safety. The team and front office staff goes over and beyond with team security. We have about 8-12 armed guards who travel with us on the planes and buses. We also have police escorts to and from the fields. I know the import players feel safe.
This has been a tough week for all of Venezuela, the fans, and of course the players and his family. Please pray for Wilson and his family. You can leave any thoughts or comments below.