Guest Post #3: Xavier Scruggs
Xavier Scruggs (@Xavier_Scruggs) was drafted by St. Louis in 2008 out of UNLV and is in the midst of his seventh professional season. He grew up in California and attended Poway High School in San Diego. The infielder spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, where he is the all-time career home runs leader with 59.
“A few years ago I was blogging for Scout.com and had a great time doing it,” Scruggs said. “I wrote about winter ball and my season in Springfield. When the Redbirds Media team ap
proached me about blogging, I immediately thought about how awesome it would be to give fans an inside look on a player’s thoughts and everyday experiences.”
From June 17, 2014
One of my favorite parts of playing this game is the opportunity to develop relationships with my teammates, coaches and others associated with the team. I know some of these guys better than others from playing with some longer than others.
For example, I have been playing with Jermaine Curtis since I was in high school. We played on the same travel team back in Southern California (Orange County Shockers). We played against each other in college multiple times as well. Eric Fornataro is another guy in the same boat. He was in the same draft class along with Jermaine and I. Eric and I have been to every level of the minors together and have even been roommates. We have both spent the past few off-seasons working out in Tampa, as well as running camps and giving lessons. Being Eric’s teammate for so long I get to see the type of work he puts in. Whether it is in the weight room or on the field before the game even happens, he is easily one of the hardest working and strongest pitchers I have ever played with. It’s cool to see the work that a lot of people outside of our team aren’t privileged to witness. The best part is seeing it pay off on the field.
Fans can’t even begin to understand how enjoyable it is to be around players like Greg Garcia and Oscar Taveras because of the strong energy they bring to the clubhouse. Both guys always seem to be smiling and keeping things loose. I admire how hard they work and the will to push their teammates to be better. It’s contagious to become a better hitter when you are around guys who are constantly working on their swing like Tommy Pham and Steven Piscotty. A lot of people don’t get to see the work that is put in the behind the scenes before it gets transferred out onto the field. Many would be in awe if they saw the practice hours put in on the same swing. If fans saw the way Pham works on his defense, not letting a single ball drop that comes within his radius during batting practice, they would have a better appreciation for when he makes a difficult catch look routine. Teammates are just what make this game what it is. There are so many different personalities and so many different backgrounds but they all come together.
It’s almost surreal that we have guys on our team with so much time in the big leagues. I learn so much from being around guys like David Aardsma, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Moore, Shane Robinson and Pete Kozma. I don’t take moments around them for granted. My eyes and ears are always open around them, taking every opportunity to retain information that will help me better my own game. There are also those guys that in my own biased opinion, are just flat out my favorite to watch. I love seeing Jorge Rondon pitch just because he throws so hard and has so much movement. Often times it looks as if the opposing hitters don’t even have a chance. He is constantly slinging the ball and throwing flames. I love to watch Luis Mateo on defense as well because of the pride he takes in his game. His glove work is smooth and the way he fields the ball is always in rhythm. True fans of the game can notice how his fluidity on defense is as good as it gets.
Often times it’s so easy for us as players to get caught up in the offensive side of the game and trying so hard to be a productive hitter, we lose sight on bettering the other aspects of our game. That’s why it is so fun to watch my roommate Randal Grichuk play this game. Every aspect of his game is just incredible to watch, from hitting to base-running and defense, he is such a powerful and explosive athlete. Don’t tell him I said that though because he might get a big head.
My point is that I have a strong appreciation for my teammates and how they perform because I get to see them behind the scenes. Every player is different and every personality is unique. Whether it is a guy like Jermaine who I have played with for a while or the hometown guy like Ed Easley who I’m playing with for the first time, every player forms a big part in shaping our team. Sometimes I just think about how all the guys in the clubhouse are the people I spend the most time with, even more than my family. I don’t want to get all mushy here, but these relationships we build are what make this game truly what it is. Everyone has something different to offer to the team.
The next time fans watch a game, I hope they aren’t just waiting for that big home run, but instead paying attention to the details. They should be watching the little things that make each player different from one another, then consider how each player benefits the team. Fans need to take a look into the dugout and pick out a certain player to watch specifically for an inning or two. Maybe it’ll change how they watch the game. Maybe they’ll start learning things they never knew before…