For a pitcher trying to make the Major Leagues, one would think that was the ultimate distraction. I don’t even like to think about being without my wife for a week. Who will find my favorite sweatpants when I misplace them?
Chris Oxspring, with the blessing of his wife and family (if you aren’t married you won’t understand how important any blessing from the wife is), pitches in the San Diego Padres’ minor league system. Scouts have tabbed him as a gimmie to make the Majors at some point. The desire to pitch in the top league in the world is the driving force behind a family far away.
For his part, Oxspring doesn’t forget why he is making the ultimate sacrifice. Despite being so far away, he keeps his family close to his heart – and closer to his head.
“I have a few things written on my hat that I look at before every inning,” Oxspring explains. “Remind me why I am here and what I am doing it for. Just so I don’t forget where I come from and the reason I spend so much time away from my family.”
Inspiration. It comes in many forms and there is no doubt that he needs the strength to make that trek to the mound every fifth day.
Interest piqued, what exactly is written in that hat of his?
“My wife’s name,” he begins thoughtfully. “The date that we were married. My name and a couple of words of inspiration that my father used to tell me as a kid playing baseball.”
And just as his wife is vital to his sustenance, so is his father. Oxspring recalls many fond moments from his childhood and feels well represented by his dad today.
“He still comes to watch me when I play out in Australia,” Oxspring said. “He still asks me how I am doing. He is really good for me. He has been great to have around. He is a great deal of help to me when I need it.”
Given the up and down year that Oxspring had this year, the help is welcome. He spent time on the disabled list for the second time in his career – a strained elbow that washed away a month of his season. His control left him for parts of the year as well.
Of course there were plenty of highs as well. Oxspring pitched Australia into the Gold Medal game with two brilliant games at the Olympics. He also added four different outings where he shut out the opposition.
It is a mixed bag for Oxspring this year. Since it was his first year on the Padres’ 40-man roster, the workload increased. Instead of, say, seven months away from home, he is spending close to ten.
“It is difficult being apart from one another for a length of time,” Oxspring admits when thinking about his wife. “Especially this year being my first year on the roster, being over here in February and being in the (Arizona) Fall League. I have seen (my wife) for probably eight weeks out of nine months which is terrible.”
There is bright news on the horizon. His wife has plans to follow him over to the states, perhaps as soon as next year. That will bring his focus on just the mound.
“There is a time when she will spend the season here. It might be next year when she can spend the summer and we can enjoy our time together instead of talking over the phone.”
Weighing the sacrifice is heavy on his mind. He knows he wants to pitch in the Majors and there would be no sweeter pie than having his wife at his side when that happens.
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