For the better part of six months, life for baseball players is spent on buses commuting from city to city, living out of a suitcase in pursuit of a dream taking them to the hallowed ballparks Major League Baseball has to offer.
Geared for a life on the road, transitioning to a life back in the private sector also presents its own challenges. This particularly holds true for those at the minor league level, who unlike their peers in the big leagues aren’t blessed with luxuries such as contracts and sponsorship deals worth millions.
“In the offseason, you go home and take a couple weeks off the get back in the gym, work out and swing the bat ’til December,” said Myrtle Beach Pelicans first baseman Matt Rose. “I actually had a job this year, though. I had to make some money … pretty much every other player is doing the same thing.”
Shortly after batting .236 with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs last season in split time between South Bend (Ill.) and Eugene (Ore.), the Chicago Cubs prospect found himself in a far different line of duty than trying to catch up with a 95 mph fast ball.
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Dealing with mold all the time, having to wear suits and masks. You’re sweating and trying to keep weight in the offseason, but it keeps falling off. Not to mention working in small areas. I’ll definitely say, baseball sure beats that.
Myrtle Beach first baseman Matt Rose on his work in mitigation this past offseason
Rose spent the offseason working in mitigation, doing his part to help reduce the loss of life and property by lessening the impact of natural disasters.
“I’ll say this … it’s a whole lot different from baseball,” he joked. “To do this, I had to wake up early, get my work done, get home, eat and sleep, then repeat.”
Among the reasons Rose fell in love with baseball was the opportunity to put his lanky, 6-foot-4 frame to work. His offseason gig, however, was at times height discriminant, putting him in areas tighter than the 4-by-6-foot confines of a batter’s box.
“Dealing with mold all the time, having to wear suits and masks,” he said. “You’re sweating and trying to keep weight in the offseason, but it keeps falling off. Not to mention working in small areas.
“I’ll definitely say, baseball sure beats that.”
Hailing from Melbourne, Fla., Rose attended Georgia State, seeing action at pitcher and at a couple of infield positions. A two-time all-conference selection, he was drafted in the 11th round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Cubs.
Each of the past two seasons saw him split time between Mid-A and Short-A ball in South Bend and Eugene. While thankful for the opportunities, there is already something about Myrtle Beach that makes Rose feel like home.
“I’m originally from Florida, five minutes from the beach,” he said. “No one is usually accustomed to the humidity of the Southeast when they first come down. (During spring training) in Arizona, it’s hot but not humid at all.
“(Teammates) first walked off the bus here and were like ‘Damn, I’m already sweating.’ I just tell them play baseball, that’s all you can do.”
Appearing in 37 games this season, Rose is batting .237 with a Pelicans team-high eight home runs. He also has 24 RBIs on the season, good for second on the ballclub.
Finally feeling his way through Carolina League pitching, the Georgia State product said he and his teammates are working to ensure they carry a broader share of the weight.
“Our pitching has been awesome, keeping us in games,” Rose said. “What we have to do is not think too much. A lot of what happens to most hitters, honestly, is overthinking instead of being natural and putting the barrel to the ball.
“It just takes a simpler approach. A T-shirt we all wear, ‘In Grind We Trust,’ kind of illustrates that. We just have to go there, swing at strikes.”