The Coastal Plain League All-Star break is here. The players who aren’t in Savannah for the festivities finally get a break before getting back on the grind that is the CPL season. Entering the break, the Mustangs have played 33 games, but are now off until Thursday.
It’s the first time since the season began that players get a real opportunity to unwind and take a step away from the game. Baseball players are admittedly a quirky bunch of guys. Some have superstitions on top of superstitions, while others just have a few things that they need to do to stay in the zone.
After batting practice Friday night, I was able to catch up with Mustangs first baseman Trey Woosley (Frontier Community College/Murray State) and outfielder Josh Smith (Georgia State) to talk about their quirks, and what they do when they take a step away from the diamond.
(Editor’s note: this interview has been edited for space and clarity.)
Bulletin: What are your superstitions and how did they come to be?
Trey Woosley: When I get in the box, each time with my left foot and my right foot I have to wipe away the chalk line, even if it’s turf. I have to dig in with my back foot, take a step out, swing, spin the bat where I can see the logo, tap the bat back on my back, step in, dig again, hit the bat on the far side of the plate, twirl it and I’m ready to go.
It’s just kind of a bunch of things mixed together that I just tried. I used to just swipe it and it stopped working. I used to just dig and it stopped working. I started mixing everything in together. I started watching other guys to see what they did and they were doing good. I was like, ‘I’m going to try it. They’re doing good.’
If it’s my first at bat and I get up there and I don’t hit a ball hard or I strike out or something I’m changing the batting gloves. And if that doesn’t work I might change my pro hitter, or just something. If I’m on a roll I won’t change my cleats. I have like 10 pairs of cleats I roll through because if I have a good day in them I’m going to stick with them. If I have a bad day it’s on to the next pair.
Josh Smith: I have a couple of superstitions. Before the game I have to tape my wrists up before I put on my jersey. It just feels better to me. Also, I like to put bat tape on my wood bat because it just feels better in my hands. When I get into the box I just raise both my hands up in the air and just look at the bat and I’m just ready to go.
It just relaxes my mind. I just feel better that way, and I also like to put pressure on the pitcher because if you get in the box faster then he’s quicker to pitch to the hitter.
Bulletin: What is your walk-up song and how did you choose it?
TW: “Wish I Had It” by Kevin Gates. I started the year with “Brand New Man” by Luke Combs and Brooks & Dunn and it just wasn’t getting the job done. That’s the one I used at school… (Former Louisville and current Tampa Bay Rays pitcher) Brendon McKay… When he was at Louisville, he’s an All-American, he used “Wish I Had It.” I thought maybe I can turn this around so I’m going to pick his song and since then I’ve been on a roll.
JS: “IDK Why” by Gunna. I also like the lyrics. He says, ‘Wonder why the Lord steady sendin’ me blessings,’ and I just feel like I can connect to that because I don’t know why the Lord is sending me blessings. Maybe it’s a sign or something like that.
Bulletin: What do you like to do when you’re not playing or watching baseball?
TW: My unwinding go-to is lifting. I used to hate to lift. Absolutely hate it. Now it’s fun. I actually enjoy it. I love to go fishing. I love just to honestly just sit at the house and watch TV and just not think anything baseball. Turn on anything but baseball. Sometimes you just have to take your mind off it.
JS: Off the field I just like to rest a lot, and when I’m not resting I like to go fishing, get my mind off of baseball and relax and catch a few fish.
Bulletin: When you do watch baseball, do you have a favorite team or player to watch?
TW: I’m a Yankees fan, but Josh Donaldson on the Braves is my favorite player. If I want to watch baseball, I don’t care really who’s playing, but the Yankees are my team.
JS: My favorite team is the Braves, and the player that I watch the most is Byron Buxton with the Twins because he plays the same position I do and I just get a feel for how he plays the game every day.
Bulletin: Do you have a go-to meal on game days?
TW: Every home game, Chick-Fil-A after BP. No. 1 combo with a cherry coke, no pickle… That’s the key.
JS: Pre-game, before BP I always go to Biscuitville… and after BP Chick-Fil-A it is.
Chris Doherty is a sports reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach him at (276)638-8801 ext. 215.