Monday started with a 7:30 a.m. wakeup call. We met in the open-air lobby at 8:30 a.m. and were quickly informed on our change of times for the team I will coach today. Our new departure time was 9:15 a.m., which was worth the wait because we were transported on the slightly larger bus that has a pull-behind, enclosed trailer for everyone’s gear.
The schedule was much more “normal” for what our U.S. kids are accustomed. We loaded the bus and took a 15-minute trip, passing the Phillies’ and Mets’ academies. Up ahead on our right the Marlins’ academy appeared, and we slowed to be greeted by the security guard, who opened the sliding, metal-barred gate for our bus to enter. As we passed by the combined dorm, weightroom, cafeteria and training room facility, as well as the Marlins’ two fields that are full of Dominican players, we proceeded a short distance to the adjacent Texas Rangers complex. As we unloaded the bus, the Rangers’ DSL (Dominican Summer League) team was finishing its on-field batting practice because it was headed a short distance down the road to play the Mets at the N.Y. complex.
Our game was played against a number of 16 newly signed players, several tryout players and a few DSL players who are in need of throwing innings or gaining some at-bats.
Today’s game was played on a pro-quality, fenced-in park with a grass infield featuring normal dirt cuts and U.S.-style spring training-type dugouts. Today, we had no rocks, sticks, trash, cardboard bases, young boys or an 800-pound roaming steer to contend with. The only rare sight was the eight chickens running around behind the left-field fence.
The game featured three large bonus players as today’s Rangers lineup included a $1,000,000 shortstop who has a cannon for an arm, a $1,000,000 DH/right fielder who has power to all fields, as well as an athletic $550,000 third baseman. The game was a well-played, competitive contest that ended in a 5-5 tie after nine innings.
After pictures and handshakes, we loaded the bus for our short trek back to the hotel. Lunch, packing and a siesta were on the docket for the afternoon.
The Hartleb team met in the lobby at 7:30 p.m. to walk to a small private dinning room. As we entered the dining room, the Boss team was finishing dinner. Tonight, the special goodbye dinner for the campers was pleasant and gave everyone a chance for final thank-yous and goodbyes. All of the campers were very appreciative of the opportunity and the experiences of the week.
As we broke, Arno delivered Zak an authentic Dominican National Team hat and two team braided necklaces. After a bear hug from the huge Arno, we all departed for our rooms. Zak spent a few hours with his cousin Camden, who is a camper, as Sam took several coaches, including myself, to experience the nightlife of Boca Chica.
Tuesday’s wakeup call was at 7:15 a.m. as we had several things on tap before we departed for our 12:09 p.m. United Airlines flight.