Making my big league debut was unlike any other experience that I have ever been apart of. It honestly is hard to try to put in to words what it was like to have a big league uniform on and run out of that bullpen and pitch in a Major League game. I wasn't that nervous because it all happened so fast, I didn't have time to think about what was about to happen. I was mainly focused on throwing strikes. The last thing I wanted to do was walk somebody in my debut. I ended up throwing a perfect 10th inning and as I tried to collect myself once I sat down in the dugout we hit a walk-off to win the game. I was so excited that we won the game I didn't realize that I had actually been credited with the win in my debut. It didn't hit me until everyone was congratulating me after we had started making our way to the clubhouse. It was an experience that I will never forget and never really be able to describe it's true feeling. It's just something that I will cherish forever.
Life in the show is definitely the way to live. Obviously the pay is good so that isn't an issue. Big league players get the best treatment possible. We don't touch our luggage, our bags seem to pack themselves, and anything you need is readily available. I understand Crash Davis when he said being in the show was the best two weeks of his life. I stop and laugh sometimes when I'm shagging during batting practice and I pick up a pearl and throw it to a fan. Being a big league ball player is the best job that I could ever imagine having. I mean I get paid to play a game that is in the best setting in the world, and that I would do for free. They don't call it "The Show" for nothing. With all the attention that we get form the media and fans, it truly is a show that many people want to watch night in and night out.
If I had to say what the biggest difference between AAA and the majors is it would have to be the attention to detail that is needed to be successful. Everything up here is under a microscope. You definitely have to know the hitters that you are facing but more importantly you need to know yourself and what is going to make you a successful big leaguer. Yes it is the same game played but it tends to move faster and it is played on a larger scale. Big leaguers have so many tools they can use, that you are forced to take advantage of the resources. An example of that would be watching video daily to see areas you need to improve on and to scout your opponents. You just don't get that in the minors. Everything in the majors is enhanced, it's almost like AAA is still using basic cable and the majors is in high definition all the time.
I'm always going to try to get better at this game because that is how you become successful and stay in the big leagues. There is no time to get comfortable. Areas that I will need to improve in are my overall command of my pitches, my recognition and understanding of hitter's tendencies, and my conditioning are all things in which I will continue to work at each day. It's going to be a learning experience everyday for me. I figure that if I'm not learning, I'm not trying. I feel that if I have improvement in the areas I mentioned and continue to make consistent adjustments I will give myself the best chance possible to succeed.
Doug Mathis is a pitcher for the Rangers. If you would like to ask Doug a question, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and the message will be forwarded to him for his next player journal.