Xavier Scruggs from Colombia, Week 8

My face to the vendors

St. Louis Cardinals first base prospect Xavier Scruggs wraps up his reports from winter ball in Colombia.

As I sit in this taxi on my way to the gym, all I can think about is how I have only a week left here in Colombia. I'm so excited to get back to familiar ground. I will no longer have to refer to my country as "Estados Unidos," I will no longer have to bargain the price of a taxi ride, and will no longer have to take cold showers.

It is crazy to think that my time here is coming to an end, but it's crazier to think I have been here for almost two full months. I've just started to develop a comfort level as well as certain routines that get me through the long days. For example, I have favorite restaurants I like to go to on specific days. I know the best time to head to the gym so I'm not stuck in a taxi for over an hour. And I've just learned how to make the perfect face that tells the vendors I'm not interested in their product (see pictures).

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(Photos: Me at the gym, view of the city, Friday's special at one of my favorite restaurants, lady walking around with fruit basket on her dome)

I never thought I'd be able to say I feel comfortable here, but in a sense I am. I definitely had my doubts about coming to this place, but in the end, I'm glad I did. I've learned a lot about myself as a player and as a person. As a person, I think I have developed the essential skill of being able to adapt to an unfamiliar situation or surrounding. Also, I have been forced to learn how to be able to communicate in another language. I have broadened my horizons and opened my brain in a way most people never will in life to say the least.

As a player, I have learned that no matter who is pitching, I have to stick to my strengths and stick to my approach at plate. I've learned that I can sit on an off-speed pitch and still be able to react to an inside fastball. I have to trust myself and continue to believe I can hit any pitch in any count as long as it is in my zone. I have learned to become more patient and take my walks. Those are just a few things. I could go on an on. It doesn't matter that my team was in last place here; all that matters is that I did what I came to do here and that is 'get better.' I worked on stealing bases as well because like I have said before, my 20/20 season is on the way.

It's funny because this past week, a lot of my teammates have already started asking me to leave equipment for them when the season is over. I have no problem leaving all of the stuff I won't use again such as my cleats, my sandals, my bats, my batting gloves, and some apparel. It's not a problem because I know these guys need it more than I do. However, when Henry Henry asked me for my athletic cup, I was a little startled. But hey, anything for my boy Henry!

This past weekend, we had a game in which I hit a home run. On the first pitch of my next at bat, the pitcher attempted to hit me with a fastball that barely missed my head. Now, if you're a baseball fan, you know that a "hit by pitch" is a part of the game. However, to intentionally hit a batter with a pitch after that batter hit a home run against you is a no-no! It's an especially big no-no if you are aiming toward a batter's head, because if a ball thrown that hard comes into direct contact with the head, it could mean serious injury, or perhaps even worse, ending someone's career.

After this happened, I tried to brush it off and focus on the next pitch. He threw me a fastball down the middle that I just missed and fouled it straight back. That was my pitch to take him deep again, and I just missed it. His next pitch went straight into my back and there was no doubt it was intentionally done because he stared me down right after he did it. Right at that moment, my first instinct was to charge the mound and go 'Money Mayweather' on him. However, my common sense kicked in and reminded me that I was in a foreign country and was the only American on the entire field. I also quickly remembered that I was playing winter ball and why risk any injury in some league that doesn't even count toward my professional statistics?

As badly as I wanted to resort to violence, I was smarter than that. I just used a couple of those not so appropriate Spanish terms I had picked up from my teammates and threw them his way. I know I shouldn't have but I was frustrated and truly angry that this guy would try to intentionally hit me with his weak fastball. It felt like a love tap anyway. At least till the next morning when I woke up and said, "Why is my back so sore?" ha. It's all good though because my teammates had my back and our pitcher returned the favor to their best hitter. Sometimes that's just how the game goes, I guess. Everyone has an ego. Luckily I'll probably face him again this week, so I'll be looking to take him deep again.

Other than that, this week has gone by pretty smoothly. They have been showing all the playoff football games here as well as a lot of NBA games, so I'm happy with that. I was surprised to see the Packers get knocked off and I was hoping to see Tebow shock the world and beat the Pats but Tom Brady was having none of that. Unfortunately my team didn't even make it into the playoffs, but there is always next year for my San Diego SuperChargers!

This might be my last blog from the winter league. I'm hoping maybe I can blog/vlog about my upcoming season wherever I might be spending it. So keep your eyes out for that. Thanks you for all the support and continue to follow me as I work toward making my dreams a reality!

Follow me on Twitter @Xavier_Scruggs. (Editor's note: You can follow dozens of other Cardinals players on Twitter, as well. Details at The Cardinal Nation Blog).



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