Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Road-weary Fish feeling fried
2B Blackwood is glad ordeal is finally over
The tally is this so far for the Winnipeg Goldeyes: Through 12 games, 10 of them on the road, a record of 8-4.
This is hardly a baseball team in need of an excuse.
Waiting for Home Game No. 2 Tuesday at Shaw Park, second baseman Jake Blackwood wanted to shed some light on just what a 10-game, season-opening road trip does to a group. Winnipeg's 17-day excursion also included a couple of exhibition games and highway miles all the way to Texas and back.
"That's by far the longest road trip I've ever been on," Blackwood, the 29-year-old veteran from Kansas City, said Tuesday afternoon, not much more than 24 hours after the team returned from the marathon trip's final road contest. "Did 12 (days) once and that was long.
"You find yourself mentally somewhat beat down a little bit, because you're on the road and you're having to eat bad food most of the time. It's hard to have a routine. It's hard to be comfortable, get your sleep and get a good meal to eat.
-- Jake Blackwood, on the Goldeyes' 17-day season-opening road trip
"That stuff all factors into a long trip like that, but with this team, we've got a lot of guys who have played a while. Our guys have some experience, been around the game so I think we were able to do what we needed to do when we needed to do it. We understood how to go about our business and make sure we were prepared for the games."
Blackwood said he was already feeling far superior Tuesday, compared to Monday, when the Goldeyes dropped their home opener 6-5 to the Sioux City Explorers. Game 2 of the series at Shaw Park was Tuesday night.
"Any time you're on a bus, you've got bus legs, heavy legs, your hands don't feel good swinging, whatever the case may be," he said.
Blackwood's addition is major news for the team this season, even though he signed in late January.
In 2010, he terrorized the Northern League for 31 homers, 86 RBI, slugging percentage (.636), 82 runs, 141 hits and 271 bases, all leading totals.
Since that gig, he's won championships in two leagues, in 2011 with Lake Elsinore in the California League and last summer with San Antonio in the Texas League.
"Those were awesome," Blackwood said. "I personally think winning a baseball championship is one of the hardest things to do. As many games as you play, to be at the top at the end, playing 100-plus games in basically six months, that's gruelling. It's hard on your body, it's hard on your mind, and to come out on top, win when you need to win, there's nothing like it.
"I've won two now. Neither was any better than the other. Both were amazing in their own ways. There's nothing like it."
All part of the reason Goldeyes manager Rick Forney was on Blackwood's trail early in the off-season.
The numbers are the numbers but winning is sometimes an unquantifiable magnifier.
"I'd like to think I'm going to bring a solid glove in the field and a threatening bat in the lineup," Blackwood said, noting his .213 batting average isn't quite was he's capable of. "I'm struggling (there) right now but my confidence is still high.
"I have no doubt that I'm going to do what I need to do. I hope that I bring a bit of veteran experience to the team. I've been on a lot of winning teams in baseball, won some championships and been in multiple all-star games and I think I can bring that winning mentality on a day-to-day basis."
Blackwood said the early season hitting challenge is almost predictable.
"Getting used to the league, how they're pitching, working out a few kinks in my swing," he mentioned, listing the factors. "My numbers don't show it but I've been hitting the ball hard. Lined out twice last night. Not terrible at-bats for the most part. Just hitting a lot of 'at-'em' balls right now. That's part of the game."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 28, 2014 C2
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