From the outside looking in, the atmosphere seems light. After all, these games are meaningless. Spring is simply a preparation phase. For many minor leaguers--especially the vets--this couldn't be farther from the truth. It's as stressful as it gets.
The end of spring is the time rosters are set. Each day players wander into the clubhouse with their heads down, looking towards a single sheet of paper to learn their fate. The paper consumes them until the very end. Sometimes, names disappear entirely from the paper.
A couple of my best friends saw their names erased today. With the stroke of a pen, Paul Oseguera and David Maroul were released. Oseguera was once rated the top 16 year old in the country. He was even in Sports Illustrated. Almost ten years and several surgeries later, he's looking for a new team.
Oseguera is a great friend and great person. He's one of the guys that I truly miss hanging out with. He'll continue to attempt to play. He knows the talent is still in there somewhere, even if the surgeries have taken much of it away. He has a newborn to provide for and a beautiful wife. Hopefully he soon finds a job within baseball that will earn him at least a little bit of a salary.
Maroul has a similar story. He was once the College World Series' Most Outstanding Player while playing for Texas. A golden glove and a plus arm, combined with power potential, made for an intriguing combination. And he's as nice a guy as you will find.
Clubbies, coaches, and teammates alike will vouch for these guys. Now they're in baseball limbo, wondering if they should continue pursuing a dream or look for another line of work. In their minds, they have more to offer. It's not an easy decision to make.
I wish them and everyone else released all the best of luck. Hopefully they will find happier days, whether they be on or off the diamond.
And for the sake of the players, let the cauldron that is spring soon come to an end.