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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Former Cat ready to go for new team

    Ryan Caseyassistant sports editor
    Ryan Casey
    assistant sports editor

    To think, less than three months ago he was a college shortstop finishing his career at the UA.

    Well, he’s still playing baseball. But a lot has changed.

    And it’s not just the fact that he’s getting paid to do it now. No, it’s not the more than 2,000 miles between Tucson and Batavia, N.Y., where he now plays. It’s not even the new number (No. 2).

    It’s the grind.

    “”I’ve learned how to play every day, because you don’t get days off,”” Jason Donald said last week – no longer a Wildcat, now a Muckdog. “”You learn how to take care of your body a little bit better. You gotta watch what you do, and how much sleep you get and eating certain kinds of food – little things that you don’t think are really important, they can affect you. You just always have to be ready to go every day.””

    Not that he’s complaining.

    After Donald – a three-year starter at shortstop under Andy Lopez

    The beautiful thing about playing pro ball… is if you have a bad night the night before, you have the next day to kind of make up for it.

    – Jason Donald
    former Wildcat

    during his time at Arizona – was drafted No. 97 overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in this past summer’s draft, he was assigned to Batavia of the New York-Penn League.

    The Clovis, Calif., native, who held Arizona’s hit-by-pitch record until Colt Sedbrook broke it last season – “”He can have it,”” Donald said at the time – and missed only two games his entire Wildcat career, was recently selected to represent the National League in the New York-Penn League (Class-A short season) All-Star Game after hitting .266 with a home run, 11 doubles and v20 RBIs. (Donald went 0-for-2, including a rocket to left center that was run down by Devil Rays’ prospect Ryan Royster.)

    “”That was a lot of fun,”” Donald said of the game held in Aberdeen, Md., at Ripken – yes, that Ripken – Stadium. “”His stadium and everything – that was awesome, that was a lot of fun.””

    And even if the All-Star struggles a bit (like a recent 1-for-6 game against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers), Donald doesn’t let it consume his thoughts.

    “”The beautiful thing about playing pro ball,”” he said, pausing for a moment, “”is if you have a bad night the night before, you have the next day to kind of make up for (it) – just start fresh again.””

    But, as anyone who’s ever seen “”Major League”” and any of its (unnecessary) sequels will tell you, there’s more to pro ball than playing every day. There are the road trips.

    “”Well they’re not -“” he said, letting out a laugh. “”See, here, they’re not too bad. I think the farthest (trip) we’ve taken is eight hours.

    “”But the thing is, you get done with the game, and you hop on a bus, travel in the middle of the night, get there at 6 in the morning, wake up at 11 and have to go to the field and get ready to play. Or you travel at 6:30 in the morning, and you drive and basically get off the bus and get ready to play.””

    Either way, it’s a major change from the road trips he was used to at Arizona.

    “”You have to become accustomed to it,”” he said, “”because it can be hard, and you’ve got to sleep when you can.””

    It has forced the soon-to-be 22-year-old (his birthday is next week) Donald’s body to adjust to a different type of lifestyle: life as a professional baseball player.

    “”You just learn what it’s like not to be fresh,”” he said. “”You don’t have fresh legs every day, or a ton of energy. You’ve got to grind it out, you’ve got to battle.””

    And as he continues to battle – especially armed with his recent All-Star appearance – it’d be easy for a young ballplayer’s mind to wander, wondering if and when he’ll get promoted.

    But not Donald.

    “”I try to let that kind of stuff take care of itself,”” he said. “”I try not to worry what is said, I just try to get myself ready to play every day.

    “”I think if I can take care of that,”” he added, “”then everything else – getting moved up, and also those good things – it’ll take care of itself.””

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