WALDORF, Md.– As Spring Training continues, many Southern Maryland Blue Crabs’ players reflected on the many lessons learned regarding balancing work, mental health and physical training during their extended offseason.

Whether they struggled or excelled during the 2019 season, many of the players looked forward to competing in 2020. Baseball is more than a game for these players. Baseball is a haven and a lifestyle for them.

“Baseball’s my passion. It’s just something about grabbing the ball, feeling it in my fingers, and just releasing it out of my hand. It’s just like an escape where I can get away from the world,” pitcher Ryan Caporice said.

Players couldn’t even go overseas to play baseball during this extended offseason.

Pictured Above: Daryl Thompson

“Everything kind of slowed down. Usually, I play in Venezuela. For the past eight out of the 10 years, I’ve been playing winter ball,” pitcher Daryl Thompson said.

Besides losing their peace, many players lost a significant stream of income.

“I had to work, which was something that was a little new for me. You got to pay for rent. You got to pay bills and all this kind of stuff a little more consistently,” outfielder David Harris said. “It was a tough challenge for myself. I’ve never experienced that amount of work and that amount of straining.”

To manage this work and life balance, many of the players combined their passion with their occupation by helping their respective communities through sports and physical fitness.

“I realized people wanted to get into fitness. So I was giving workout plans and coaching people through the phone. When it [COVID-19] kind of died down, I was able to get back into the gym and coach people. So fitness became my other area of escape,” Caporice said.

Outfielder Braxton Lee went to a high school every day to practice. Lee used his practice time to improve his game and help the kids.

“I would show up an hour early to hit the cage, get warmed up and wait for the kids to get out there after school, and then go through a full practice with them and then work out with them,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, Thompson used his time to find another passion and create another avenue of income for when he retires.

“2020 opened up my eyes to a lot of things like what’s my next move? What am I going to do next? I got into coaching with the youth around here [Md.],” Thompson said. “I’ve been getting pretty good clientele, but it [2020] set me up to actually know what I wanted to do when it’s time for me to hang it up.”

This pandemic has given many athletes and regular people time to spend with their families, but athletes struggle to spend quality time with family more than an average person because of the travel schedule. So, the pandemic gave these athletes much-needed time with their families.

“Being able to spend as much time with my family as possible was nice because, in baseball, you play every season. You leave from February to September. I mean, that’s a long time and your family gets to visit you,” Lee said. “It was nice because I got to see my mom and dad a lot. They never get to come watch me just living so far down south. Every team is so far away.”

As players reflect on their offseason experiences, they realized like the pandemic as anything else has its positives and negatives. However, it’s a matter of how you look at it.

Pictured Above: David Harris

“There’s pros and cons to everything we do, regardless. You lose somebody, but someone else is born right,” Harris said.

After speaking with the players, many of the Blue Crabs took a positive spin on their extended offseason, and it is fueling their hunger to succeed.

The Blue Crabs had a good start on their Spring Training games when they beat the California Dogecoin 7-0 in a closed exhibition game on May 19. Their first exhibition game will be open to the public on May 22, during the Blue Crabs’ Fan Fest from 12 to 3 p.m.

For our continuing coverage of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, stick with TheBayNet.com

To contact Tony and the rest of our news desk, email news@thebaynet.com