There’s nothing glamorous about being a professional baseball player when you’re stuck in extended spring training.
Who: Augusta GreenJackets vs. Charleston RiverDogs
Affiliation: Augusta — San Francisco; Charleston — New York Yankees
Games: Today, 7:05 p.m.; Friday, 7:05 p.m.; Saturday, 6:05 p.m.; Sunday, 5:05 p.m.
Radio: WTMZ 910-AM
You stumble out of bed before the sun comes up and report to the ballpark by 7 a.m. You lift weights and eat breakfast and head over to the field to stretch and throw. After that, it’s another hour working on fundamentals or throwing in the bullpen.
A quick break for lunch and then you play a nine-inning game. If you’re a pitcher and not throwing, you chart pitches and chase foul balls.
That’s the routine seven days a week, unless it rains.
Not exactly the lifestyle one envisions for a pro athlete — even one in the minor leagues.
Charleston RiverDogs relief pitcher Dietrich Enns got a taste of extended spring training in early April. While the rest of his teammates headed for Charleston or one of the other New York Yankees’ minor league affiliates, Enns was left behind in Tampa, Fla.
“I thought for sure I’d had a good enough spring to make one of the teams,” said Enns, the Yankees’ 19th-round pick in last summer’s Major League Baseball draft. “It was disappointing not to make one of the teams. I got kind of down on myself, but at the same time I realized that I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. I had to continue to work hard and eventually good things were going to happen for me.”
Enns was fortunate. He was in extended spring training for less than a week.
An injury to Charleston pitcher Derek Varnadore in the second game of the season gave Enns an opportunity to get out of Tampa.
He hasn’t looked back since.
The former Central Michigan University star has become one of the most reliable relief pitchers for the RiverDogs this season.
In 381/3 innings, Enns is 4-0 with a minuscule ERA of 0.70. He has allowed just three earned runs all season while striking out 59 batters, which is tied for 10th place in the South Atlantic League. Opponents are hitting .141 against him.
Enns was one of four RiverDogs selected for next week’s SAL All-Star game at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, N.J.
The hard-throwing left-hander has proven to be something of a workhorse coming out of the bullpen. His fastball, which routinely hits in the low 90s, and his changeup and slider have allowed him to be more than just a matchup pitcher used strictly against left-handed batters. In his 17 appearances, including one as a starter, Enns has thrown two or more innings 15 times.
“Dietrich eats up a lot of innings,” said RiverDogs pitching coach Danny Borrell. “When you throw as hard as Dietrich does from the left side, you’re going to get opportunities to face a lot of right-handed hitters. I think you’d be wasting his talents to bring him in to face one or two batters.”
Enns relied on his fastball and changeup when he first got to Charleston. But it is his developing slider that has turned heads within the Yankees organization.
“He is a left-handed pitcher that can throw three pitches anytime in the count,” Borrell said. “That’s impressive on any level.”
For now, Enns is happy playing Class A ball in Charleston.
“Your dream is to play in the major leagues, so that’s always in the back of your mind,” Enns said. “But if you’re worried about moving up and nothing happens, you’ll get frustrated. My focus is on getting better each time I’m out there. If that happens, the rest of the stuff will take care of itself.”