Independent Baseball Insider, Vol. 12, No. 4, March 27, 2014 – by Bob Wirz
“I’ve got Day 1 and Day 2”.
Those were the words of a happy Arizona Diamondbacks righthander Bo Schultz this week. It seems many more will follow for the 28-year-old, who is quite certain he would never have gotten any major league opportunity if he did not commit to a summer (2011) in the American Association after the Oakland Athletics had cut the non-drafted free agent after nearly two seasons in the rookie and Class A ranks.
The Northwestern journalism graduate has little doubt his career would have ended right then “because I wouldn’t have had an opportunity.”
Schultz, like many other major league rookies–including several others out of the Independent ranks–have been anxiously waiting word every day this week whether they will be on major league rosters when the campaign goes full out on Monday.
The 6-foot-3 Texan appears to have a few advantages over some of the other players.
He was thought highly enough of that he was taken to the Arizona Fall League and added to the 40-man major league roster after last season, major steps over being a non-roster invitee this spring, and he was one of 28 players–15 pitchers–the team took to Australia last weekend for two season-opening games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That was what prompted Schultz’s “I’ve got Day 1 and Day 2” comment, because those two days as a true major leaguer can never, ever be taken away from him should he step in a hole, break an ankle and never play another baseball game.
He pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the second of two D-Backs losses, giving up a first-pitch single to Hanley Ramirez, then retiring Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and A. J. Ellis.
“It was pretty amazing,” Schultz told me from Arizona. “It was unique, very cool to be part of the first games in a historical facility (Sydney Cricket Ground)“, as well as the first major league games ever played in the country.”
Schultz said his nerves were not bad when he entered the game (“I was a little more nervous in the bullpen”), and called the experience ‘pretty surreal’. He confessed he had told himself not to “throw a ball” and not to throw one “right down the middle” on the first pitch. “I got it half right”, he laughed, not throwing a ball but the pitch was down the middle and Ramirez sent it back past him and into center field.”
The whole Australian trip was a joy, Schultz said, with “a little bit of sightseeing”, including a trip with other players to a fairly quiet Palm Beach, to the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge along with the zoo where he got to pet a koala bear. It was not even bad when the bus broke down on the way to the first game and the players got out and walked the last half mile.
“I feel prepared (for the major leagues); I’ve taken advantage (of the opportunity),” said Schultz, who has put his journalism career on hold for now. But he knows that 2011 season at Grand Prairie (37 appearances, including four starts, 4-3, one save, 4.13 ERA and only 54 strikeouts in 72 innings) helping the AirHogs to the American Association title “was my bridge” to the current opportunity, not only because of getting a second chance with his career but also because that was where he gave up two and a half years as a submarine style pitcher and returned to throwing over the top. “You are not going to make it (with major league scouts) if you can’t light up the radar gun (he now throws up around 96 miles per hour) or have a zero ERA as a submariner.”