Off to the DR

Hello! Long time no speak.

It’s been a while, so please bear with me. Last time I wrote, I was in Scranton, PA. Now to fast-forward, I am in Arizona, about to take off to the Dominican Republic to play for the Gigantes del Cibao.

I’m very excited about this new opportunity. It’s not every day you get to play this great game in another country and experience a different culture. It’s no secret that professional baseball (at all levels) is dominated by Latin Americans and I can’t wait to experience the subtleties of the way they play the game.

I’ve been very lucky over my career to play all over the world. I’ve been to Japan, South Africa, Taiwan and even Cuba. I feel that this has helped me become the ball player I am today as each country has their own rendition on how to play baseball.

Just to reflect on last offseason, I was extremely fortunate to be able to play in the Arizona Fall League and I think that will help me in the Dominican Republic. Baseball can be both physically and mentally demanding, so finding that fine line between rest and preparation during the offseason is quite different for everybody. That being said, I can’t wait to start playing in the Dominican League and help the Gigantes win a championship!

‘Til next time, thank you and take care.

Josh

Rain, rain go away!

So far we’re roughly two weeks into the year and when you think you have seen it all, we’ve had an astonishing six games over four consecutive days rained out!  Absolutely crazy. That being said, if you’re to take anything positive away from the disrupted schedule, this is the weather you’d be playing in during the month of October, which we all dream of doing one day.

I’ve been very lucky over my short professional career to get some great advice and some of the best words of wisdom have been unrelated to the game of baseball. Former teammate of mine Heath Bell, who is with the Diamondbacks now, preached this to me…. Every new city I go to, I should set some time aside and see what the city has to offer.  Basically, take advantage of seeing parts of America that you wouldn’t normally see.  It’s no secret that with the travel in the minor leagues it’s tough to make some time for yourself.  It’s a constant battle to get your rest and be as prepared as you can be, as you jump from city to city. Even though the weather wasn’t ideal with the rainouts in Buffalo, it gave us an opportunity to get our feet back underneath us and explore the town.

As a foreigner thinking about Buffalo, New York, a few things come to mind. 1) How close it is to Canada. 2)  Niagara Falls and 3) Chicken wings, haha. With time constraints (and other obvious reasons) going to Canada was definitely out of the question.  With weather constraints, Niagara Falls was a “raincheck” (so to say). That leaves option number 3… chicken wings! A lot of people from Buffalo have their opinions on where the best wings in town are, so it was tough deciding where to go. Then we came across the Anchor Bar, which claims to be “Home of the Original Wing”, so we had to try it out!

Anchor Bar

Anchor Bar

Thirteen RailRider “spread crushers” (a spread crusher is a nickname for someone who eats to much at the ballpark) jumped in the hotel shuttle and off we went down Main street to the Anchor Bar. On arrival we were very intrigued to hear the story of the “Original Wing”. The story goes: In 1964, the owner of the Anchor Bar’s son was working late that night when a few of his buddies dropped by and he asked his mom to whip them up something to eat. The chicken wings were usually dropped in a crock pot and used for soup and broths, instead she decided to deep fry them because they “looked too good to put in the soup that day” and this was the birth of the “Original Wing”.

The Wings

The Wings

When you order, there are a handful of sauces to choose from; mild, medium, hot, and spicy BBQ (or suicidal, if you dare). When you order it’s done in increments of ten, twenty or fifty. Between the thirteen of us we unashamedly ordered around 250 wings and let me tell you, nobody left hungry.  Generally, as a team we do a pretty good job of eating healthy and fueling our bodies the right way. To be honest with you, I feel that anything in moderation isn’t terrible for you. That day the thought of moderation went right out the window, haha!!  But hey….when in Rome. Overall it was a great experience and those wings will be hard to beat.

Till next time thank you and take care!

Josh

A new toy and my first road trip of the year to West Point

I recently purchased a new toy during spring training that will come in very handy for road trips during the year. Now since I’m writing a blog I thought it would be a good opportunity to type up a little review about it. The company is GAEMS (www.gaemspge.com) and the product is a PGE (personal gaming environment). If you’re not into video games, I’ve probably already lost you but if you’re a gamer like myself you’ll want to hear more about this slice of heaven I’ve found. It’s essentially a hard-case for my Xbox that has a screen inside so I can play anywhere/ anytime (even in the bullpen before I get called into pitch… kidding!).

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Hanging out at my apartment

I’m a bit of a goober when it comes to technology, so when I came across this case I just had to get one. So far it’s been unreal! If you’re like me and carry your Xbox around a lot the case alone will pay for itself. It’s lightweight and enables you to travel safely with your console. If you can find a power outlet, all you need to do is open it up, plug it in and off you go. There are two different sizes, I went with what’s called the ‘Vanguard’ which has a 19inch screen securely built inside. I honestly don’t see myself taking the Xbox out of the case to play on my TV, the screen is that good!

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My locker on the last day at spring training, getting ready to hit the road!

Recently I did some traveling with the team towards the end of spring training, Where we played some exhibition games against the Nationals and Army (at West Point). Travel involved a train ride where I was able to connect my Vanguard and pass some time. Being on the road is definitely going to be a little easier this year! (if you’re interested in getting one there is a promo code at the bottom of this blog which will give you a discount, enjoy!).

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Living out of a suitcase isn’t all bad with my Gaems Vanguard

Having the opportunity to play against the Nationals in preparation for the year was an awesome experience. We also got to be apart of bringing back the tradition of playing Army at West Point, which was something else! Our day started with a tour of the athletic department and the old chapel (1 of 5 that are on campus). Then we went to the pointe that over looks the Hudson River and one of the cadets explained the importance of this lookout. It is where the chain was used to stop the British from riding down and heading into Manhattan. Being from Australia and not knowing much history about West Point, it was incredible to listen to all the stories.

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Looking out over the Hudson river at West Point

Before the game we went to the “Mess Hall” and ate with some of the cadets. I sat at a table with a mix of students from freshman all the way up seniors. Hearing about their daily lives and how they got to West Point was a true inspiration. Afterwards it was time to head to the ballpark. It was a humbling experience walking into the locker room. Army has great facilities and were very accommodating but you could say we were used to a bigger clubhouse haha. It was nothing we all hadn’t dealt with throughout our careers but it had been a while since being back in a college locker room. That being said, it was these moments that made the day so special.

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Cadets “Mess Hall”
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This place huge and seats over 4000 students!!

During and after the game we got to mingle with the cadets both on and off the baseball field. I personally got to learn about a piece of American history, right where it happened. It was an unbelievable day. I hope this is a tradition the Yankees continue to carrying on.

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My locker for the day
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DoubleDay Field

Till next time, thank you and take care.

Josh

PS. If you’re interested in getting a Gaems case like myself, they’re running a promo code for a limited time only that will give you a discount at checkout! Enter: SPENCEDC for an $80 discount ($50 off a Vanguard case plus the same “digital camo skin” i have on mine, valued at $30). if you are tech savvy, you can use a QR reader on the barcode below and it will send you right to the Gaems website. check it out!

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QR CODE for Gaems Vangaurd Link

Welcome to The Spread!

G’day!

My name is Josh Spence. First let me welcome you and say thanks for clicking on my blog! I’m now entering my third full season of professional baseball, my first in the Yankees organization. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel blessed for spending my time at the ballpark. I don’t know what this year may hold for me, but that being said, that’s part of the fun :)

You might be wondering why this blog is called “The Spread.” It’s actually a pun on a newspaper and a condiment — that condiment being a jar of Vegemite. Vegemite is an Australian spread that I keep in my locker. Not only do I bring a jar with me everywhere I go to remind me where I came from, I also really enjoy watching the reaction when someone in the clubhouse tries it for the first time. (Let’s just say I haven’t found anyone outside of Australia who has liked it yet. It’s an acquired taste, that’s for sure.)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time living in America. It’s been seven years now since I enrolled at Central Arizona Community College. Even though my accent has changed over time (a little), my goals have not. I’m excited to share my journey this year with you, both on and off the field.

‘Til next time, thank you and take care.

Josh

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