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March 30, 2010

Matt's Mailbag: March 31, 2010

I received an e-mail question yesterday asking if I could explain what happens when a player gets released from a team or sent down during Spring Training or the regular season.

It just so happens that a few days ago at practice, I was sent down to Triple-A Portland. So I guess now would be the appropriate time to explain how you find out, and what actually happens when you get sent down.

During the season it is a little different, so first I'll try to give a Spring Training example of what happens when you go from Major League Spring Training to Minor League Spring Training.

First off, you never really know when cut day is coming, but usually there will be a group of guys cut on the same day, so if you see teammates being called into the manager's office, take cover.

Usually every week or so there will be a cut day all the way up to the end of Spring Training. I showed up for practice a few days ago and quickly realized it was one of those days. Technically it really isn't a true, "cut day".

If you are in Minor League Spring Training, cut day is something totally different. If you are cut in minor league camp it means you are done, you've been released. As you can probably guess, this is the absolute toughest day for not only the player, but everyone in the organization. Sometimes you will hear that baseball is a "business" and these type of days remind everyone of that fact. The toughest part about the day is that for a lot guys it is the first time they will ask themselves, "what do I do next?"

Most players have never done anything but play baseball for most of their lives. A lot of guys didn't even get a college education. They were drafted out of high school and have put in many years of playing in search of that ultimate goal of reaching the Major Leagues.

If you get cut you really only have two options: 1) try to sign on with another team, or 2) look for a new line of work. It really is one of the saddest days of the year.

A lot of times a player that gets cut is someone that you have played with for years, and this is the day you realize there could be a chance you might never see the guy again. There have been countless amounts of my friends that have been released a few years ago and I haven't seen them since that day.

As tough of a part of the game as it is we all understand that each year there will be thousands of new players trying to take your job and that's the nature of the game.

Now back to Major League Camp.

It was around 7AM when I first noticed some players being called into the office. I went about my normal morning...getting changed, eating breakfast and heading into the trainer's room to get loosened up and ready for the day's work. I had just laid down on the training table to stretch out when I heard one of our coaches call my name.

"Manager wants to see you."

Those are the words you don't want to hear if you're a player. The only time something good has come after those five words was when I got the news that I had been called up to the big leagues. I jumped up and headed into his office. It is a pretty familiar scene for me in there considering this was my third Major League Spring Training and the third time I had been called into the office towards the end of camp. I was told that I had done a good job but they had to send me down.

We talked for about five minutes before I shook every one's hand and headed out to pack up my locker.

As I said a few days ago, I had a very good idea that I wasn't going to make the team, but it still isn't ever fun to be told you didn't make a team you were trying to be on. I grabbed my equipment bag, threw my uniform, glove, bats, and anything else I could fit in there so I would only have to make one trip, and walked it over to the other side of the building to where the minor league camp is held.

That's pretty much it.

Once you get over there you are given a new locker in a much more crowded locker room. You receive your new jersey (number 41 for me), your new pants (much tighter and less comfortable ones) and your new daily schedule. You are now part of Minor League Spring Training.

Now get to work!

Matt Antonelli is a second baseman in the San Diego Padres farm system. Do you have a question for Matt? Drop him an email at or here in the comments section!

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