Hanging with Morgan Ensberg
Ever wonder what it would be like to be a player for a major league baseball team? We all know it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. But what else does it take? How hard is the job? Could you do it?
A pro baseball game lasts about three hours. But it takes more than an hour to prepare and get ready for the first pitch.
After spending prep-game warm-ups with the Astros’ third baseman, I realized just how hard the job is. You can’t just show up on game day and start playing. Ensberg’s job is long hours, skill, patience, practice and determination. And, you have to have a love for the game.
Morgan, 29, was drafted by the Houston Astros in the ninth round of the June 1998 draft. While in college at the University of Southern California, he helped the Trojans to the College World Series title that same year.
Ensberg is admired by teammates, especially for his easy going personality and positive attitude. “Morgan is a great young player, he’s a fine defensive third baseman, he’s got power, and I think he is really starting to come into his own as a major league player,” said Astros General Manager Tim Purpura. Joe Sambito, a former Astros and Red Sox closer, and now Ensbergs agent agreed. “I think at some point he can be a prolific run producer for the Astros.”
On a typical day of a home game, Morgan has breakfast around 10 a.m.. He also reads out of the bible every single morning. After breakfast, he runs errands then grabs a healthy lunch like a spinach salad with chicken. He heads to the ballpark around 3:00 p.m. Once at the ballpark, he slips into his batting practice uniform, and spends time studying the opposing pitcher is for that night’s game, and then he takes to the field for warm-ups and stretches.
Jogging is one way he gets himself loose. It gets the circulation going and is an excellent aerobic warm-up. “You’ve got to get a little sweat going,” says Morgan. “I think that maintaining any type of conditioning program is important along with lifting weights. Nothing too heavy, but just enough to keep your body in shape.”
After a good warm-up, he will play catch with teammate Adam Everett and then field some grounders before heading to the outfield to track balls and wait for his turn to hit in the batting cage. Once in the cage, he tries to get the most out of his batting practice round by working on his swing and his timing. “I try to have a purpose with each swing,” he says. Batting practice not only helps the hitters stay loose, it helps them on their concentration and prepares them for the actual game itself.
This warm-up process takes about an hour each day, except on Sundays where they have no scheduled batting practice. I asked Morgan if he ever got tired of going through the same routine every day, and if he ever felt exhausted after batting practice. “I sometimes get a little tired after batting practice,” he said. “But nothing too bad. I think it prepares me for the game. It gets my mind focused on the game and I’m able to grove my swing and get my arm in shape for the game.”
After batting practice, he heads to the clubhouse and grabs something to eat and then will sit and do a little bit of reading and listen to music on his i-Pod. Thirty-five minutes later it’s game time!
JUST FOR FUN:
MM:How do you feel about being a role model?
ME: I think it’s important that people have role models. It’s important that they should be good examples and I think it’s important for us as ball players to carry ourselves well and play the game correctly and do things correctly off the field too.
MM: What’s your greatest strength as a player?
ME: I think just being able to do ok, and when things are going badly, I generally don’t go into slumps for long. I think just keeping an even keel is my greatest strength.
MM: What advice do you have for kids who want to become a baseball player one day?
ME: My advice is actually a little bit different that what you would think. I actually encourage kids who want to be major league baseball players to play a lot of sports, not just baseball, but to get out there and play any sports that interest you. I think it’s all the sports and all the different team aspects that help you learn how to play baseball.
MM: Favorite Stadium to play in.
ME: I like Minute Maid Park the best. I like it because I see well here and I always feel like I can see the pitchers. I also like Wrigley Field which is a cool place and it’s a great atmosphere where the fans are just really great and pulling for the Cubs and it’s just a good rivalry.
MM: The thing most people would find interesting about me is…
ME: I really enjoy reading. I read as much as I can. Normally people just think that we’re stupid dumb jocks. (laughs)
MM: If you weren’t a baseball player, what job would you have?
ME: I think I would enjoy owning and renting out apartments and owning and developing land, or something like that. I also think it would be nice to be able to coach.