BRADENTON, Fla – Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand Jon Schwind’s best backup is his fiancé.
Baseball players, more than any other athletes, have a variety of rituals to get ready for a game. Schwind draws his inspiration from the woman he plans to spend the rest of his life with.
“You prepare certain ways to make sure you feel good,” Schwind said.”I do like to talk with my fiancé before the games, before the day, before I get to the clubhouse. Just want to hear a familiar voice. That’s my motivation.”
Schwind grew up in Rochester, N.Y., playing both hockey and baseball before permanently choosing the latter during his junior year of high school.
“In junior year I started phone calls and letters to college,” Schwind said. “I’m from [a] small town so I didn’t realized how good I was. When I got to college, other sports stopped and I started to focus on baseball.”
The Pirates drafted the 23-year-old in the 41st round of the 2011 MLB draft. He only hit .216 and two home runs last year for the Single-A West Virginia Powers, but he had a good walk rate.
The catcher/outfielder was raised with role models in his own family. Two of his brothers played baseball in college, while one was a college hockey player.
“I grew up playing three sports [hockey, soccer, baseball],” said the 23-year-old Schwind.
“I have three older brothers and I was very fortunate, they taught me everything I know.”
Although most view baseball as a glamorous profession, the grind of a full minor-league season can take a toll on a player.
Schwind uses his own way of dealing with the travel, especially from a mental capacity. The Pirates’ organization also does a good job of helping players through their concerns.
“When you have bad day, call home,” said Schwind. “Call somebody you love. They push you and make feel better. [With the] Pirates we have mental condition coaches and a whole program we go trough. They [help] explain the basics.”
When Schwind doesn’t play baseball he likes to play hockey to relax. He spends plenty of time with his family, including a brother who lives in Toronto. Last month, the Schwind brothers took in a Justin Timberlake concert at Air Canada Centre.
The best is yet to come for Schwind as he gets ready to marry his fiancé in October.