Prospect Interview: Eddie Bonnie

Telling it straight. Life in the Minor Leagues is tough. If you weren't selected at the top of the draft, the bonus received is often low and your offseason includes work – an actual job outside of baseball.

Not only do you have to work forty hours a week, you have to fit in time to work out.

Chasing the dream includes punching a timecard and being able to put food on the table while getting in some practice reps anywhere conceivable.

How does the back of Home Depot sound? That is where Eddie Bonine found room and a partner to toss a baseball around. Not exactly high tech but it served its purpose.

"My supervisor is an ex-Big League player, Derrin Ebert, with the Braves," says Bonine. "He has been my throwing partner and has been trying to get some workouts with some teams.

"We have been throwing behind Home Depot, anywhere we can and trying to get some sort of routine."

Throwing outside of the job he took during the offseason is what he has been relegated to. Instead of focusing all of his energy on his body and mind, Bonine fits his workout regimen around his duties to provide.

"It is not as glorious as some high round picks who had the bonuses," he admits. "My offseason consists of trying to give me and my wife some sort of savings account that we can manage on throughout the season. The big monthly salaries in the minor leagues…"

If work ethic was on his job description, Bonine would be due a hefty raise.

Although he is obliged to work a job, Bonine has dedicated the rest of his time to working out in preparation for the 2005 season. With a supportive wife, he has been able to pick out the positives from a 2004 season that left him disappointed.

He is focused on the future, developing his mind and body to be in harmony when he hits the mound.

After a long and strenuous season split between the Midwest League and California League, Bonine knew he had to put in the extra effort during the offseason to sustain his strength during the regular season when his job is judged on the mound.

"One of my goals was to increase my flexibility and also increase my lower body and trunk strength to help out," said Bonine. "Going into my second full season and knowing how it went in my first full season and my body breaking down, hadn't thrown that many innings, and trying to give myself a better foundation from the ground up to allow my arm to be as healthy as long as possible and try to endure the marathon, not like a sprint."

So he worked and he worked out and then he worked out some more.

Reflecting on the lag towards the end of 2004, Bonine found something that will help shape his future.

They say failure is the means towards success and the right-hander derived from his body fatigue that he had more tools than he originally realized.

"Everybody feels (the fatigue)," Bonine admitted. "Everybody deals with it in their own way. You have to push through it. There was a point towards the end of the year when I was feeling it and my velocity dropped a little bit.

If you don't have top velocity you have to rely on pinpoint control. To be honest it helped me as far as becoming a better pitcher. Just because I was relying more on the mental game of what I learned earlier in the year and putting it on the field as well as giving myself the best chance to have success when I did not have my best stuff.

"Out of all the starts through the season you are not going to have your best stuff every time and I understand that. You have to be able to win without your best stuff. Those days that you do have your best, you should have a breeze."

Between all the obligations, Bonine has done a lot of learning this offseason. He enters 2005 better prepared for the highs and lows that is part of a prospects life.

Now that the baseball season is back, Bonine is ready to meet and conquer the challenges. He reports to "work" healthy, both physically and mentally. With the lessons learned this offseason, he says this year "is a big year. I want to try and put the mental side of it together and have a good solid, rebound year. I wasn't real happy with how last year went. I believe that going into this year I may be better for it."

And so are the Padres.

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