A life of a baseball player will sometime require the normal four-hour bus ride to the stadium to play a game that may last two hours. If you ask these players they would tell you they wouldn’t want to be any where else.
For the Army West Point baseball team, the boys are on their annual spring break trip. Riding a bus around Florida for a week beats battling the 20 degree weather, and snow, back on the northeast.
Here the team is able to get in a full week of games against some great competition as they gear up for Patriot League play upon their return. One person who is looking to continue his early success is Army junior pitcher Tyler Giovinco.
The Las Vegas, Nevada native is looking to build off a solid junior campaign on the mound. One of the best ways to do that is by getting his work in during the spring. So, for him a bus trip is just another step on honing his craft.
“Yea it’s not too (the bus trip) bad,” stated Giovinco. “I had worse.”
Like most players, Giovinco had to make the tough transition from dominating in high school ball to finding out what would work in college. Besides learning all the military stuff that comes with going to the academy, Giovinco also had to learn how to pitch.
In high school, he would be able to over power the hitter. It college it was a different story. He had to learn how to pitch and keep his pitched down. Freshman year was the learning experience. Sophomore year was the breakout - where he started 12 games and appeared in 16.
“Freshman year just started out kind of slow,” stated Giovinco. “I was just trying to get used to everything. I was getting you to college baseball, instead of high school baseball. The game kind of speeds up a little bit, and I was just kind of trying to slow my brain down and let everything happen.”
After a strong sophomore campaign, expectations are high for Giovinco. But, it’s not the team or the coaching staff that’s placing those expectations on him. It’s Giovinco himself.
Giovinco wants to be known as one of the best pitchers in the conference. And to do so he needs to be able to take that next step. Everything he learned last year he is pouting into his game on the mound.
While the results haven’t been there during his first couple of starts, Giovinco knows he be one of the best in the Patriot League.
“My goal again this year is just trying to be one of the best guys in the conference,” stated Giovinco. “I want to do everything I can to help our team win. “
This is one reason why the next couple of weeks are important for Giovinco and the Black Knights. The northeast is not the easy place to play baseball March through end of April. The weather can be brutal and it’s tough as a ball player to try and get loose.
The annual Florida trip is a great way to be able to work on your game. While stats aren’t everything, for Giovinco his biggest stat is helping his team get a win. When he’s on the mound all he cares about is giving the boys the best chance to win.
And, so far that’s exactly what he’s done.
“First couple weeks of the year, i am just looking to give the team a chance to win every game,” stated Giovinco. “The biggest thing is giving the team a chance the win, and keeping the ball down. Easiest way to do is just let the defense do what they do.”
Keeping the ball down is important for Giovinco. Not known as a strikeout pitcher, even though he had 12 in a recent game, Giovinco is all about about pounding the zone and keeping the ball down.
He feels that’s the best way he can approach hitters. Being able to keep hitters off balance with his fastball and breaking stuff, gives him a chance to compete every tie he steps on the rubber.
“I like to throw strikes. I’m really not a strikeout pitcher, even though a couple weeks ago I had 12 of them,” stated Giovinco. “I want to try and keep the ball down and hit my spots. I just try and get ground balls, and keep everyone in the game. It’s a lot easier to keep yourself in the game longer when your pitch count is done. You’re able to get through innings a lot quicker.
It also gives him hope for the future. In years past, if you attended an academy your athletic career would end after four years. But, recently, there have been athletes who have went on to play in the National Football League and Major League Baseball.
This gives guys like Giovinco hope. Now, instead of going in and then serving five years after, athletes have an outside chance of playing professional ball. Last season, former Army West Point baseball player Chris Rowley became the first graduate of West Point to play in the major leagues.
Giovinco knows that if Rowley can make it - why can’t he and the rest of his teammates.
“No that he has been able to make the majors it shows that it is possible for us,” stated Giovinco. “It shows that you are able to come out of here (West Point) and become good baseball players, and not just go into the military. It lets you know that team might be looking at you a little bit more now, because it’s been done.”
Giovinco and his teammates will get the opportunity to play in the majors, at least for a couple games, as they take on Navy at Fenway Park and Camden Yards. For a lot of these guys, it will be the only chance to step on a major league field.
Being able to keep the emotions in check will be the biggest part of the game.
“I’m exited for it,” stated Giovinco. “It’s going to be surreal. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us, and we just have to make the most of it. Can’t worry too much about where we are at. Once the game starts we just keeping playing our game. Once we do that I think we will be just fine.”