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Schlact ready for offseason to end
02/24/2011 10:00 AM ET
Uncertainty is a constant in the life of a Minor Leaguer, and this is especially true for the free agents.

Michael Schlact, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who was drafted by the Rangers in 2004, is currently among the ranks of the unsigned. So, while many of his peers have packed up and left for Spring Training, he bides his time in other ways while waiting for the phone call that could change everything.

"The most important thing is for me to get a [pitching] job," said Schlact, who was born and raised in Georgia. "I had shoulder surgery in July of 2009, and that required a 12-14-month healing process. So it wasn't really until the end of last season that I was feeling like myself again. I didn't feel like I had the time to really prove myself. So now my main focus is convincing teams that the surgery was a success and that there are no [injury] worries with me."

This task can be a struggle, especially to someone so accustomed to an annual baseball routine.

"Some days are better than others," he said. "Throughout the last six or seven years, I always knew what was going on -- when I had to report to Spring Training, where I was going to start the season -- but now we're closing in on Spring Training and I have no idea what's going to happen. But I have a lot of faith and just concentrate on what I can control -- my throwing, my lifting and my running -- so that when that call does come I can act upon it."


In the meantime, there is the more pressing concern of paying the bills. Schlact and his wife, Jillian, both work as educators during the offseason -- she as a substitute teacher and he as a pitching instructor.

"[Teaching] was something I had always done on my own, but this year I met the owner of an indoor facility at a conference, so now I do it there," said Schlact. "I'll teach anybody, but the average age is between 10 and 15. Most [of my students] are either getting ready for travel ball or entering high school -- those seem to be the two times that parents really want their kids to be at their best."

At this point, Schlact is also plenty qualified to teach a class on how to effectively utilize social media. He joined Twitter just over a year ago, and in that time has tweeted more than 13,000 times en route to accumulating more than 6,000 followers. His feed is a diverse stream of consciousness, encompassing everything from motivational aphorisms to Girl Scout cookie pontifications to self-deprecating analyses of his baseball skills (i.e., "6'8" + fielding = Bambi").

"I've always been a people person. I got that from my dad -- he's a really outgoing guy who'll carry on a conversation with anybody," said Schlact. "I just like to find the good in people, to learn about them and connect with them. Twitter is great, because it connects me with fans, teammates and guys I play against. ... It's almost like one big family."

And given his long list of followers, Schlact is obviously doing something right in this regard.

"I just try to be positive and uplifting, and never be negative," he said. "Most of the players I know joined after I did, so there hasn't been much competition [in terms of followers]. But if I see a guy on Twitter that I know from another team, then we might have a friendly conversation before he comes into town. The fans see that, and it brings a new light to the competition."

And, through it all, the dialogue helps to illuminate a fundamental truth.

"[Minor League Baseball players] are all just regular people," he said. "I tell people every day, 'We're just regular dudes with a cool opportunity, that's all it is.' Fans sometimes think we make big league money, but we're all just doing whatever it takes to live the dream."



This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.