Mike Hauschild couldn’t be in a much better situation during the coronavirus pandemic in terms of keeping his arm in shape. He’s staying in Beavercreek with his parents, Doug and Patty, and as one of the owners of the Orion Sports Medicine facility in Miamisburg — along with veteran big-league reliever Craig Stammen, former Dayton Flyers star Chris Wright and Dr. Philip Anloague — he has access to an area where he can throw.
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“I can go throw whenever I want,” Hauschild said Tuesday. “I’ll throw to my brother. We have a couple other guys in the area who come in and play catch. We’re obviously very safe. You’re washing hands. You’re making sure you’re not touching your face.”
That’s a hard adjustment for a pitcher.
“If my hands are dry, I’ll lick my hand,” Hauschild said. “I did it one time and was like, ‘Dang it.’ I had to go wash my hands again and be mindful of that.”
Hauschild, a 2008 Beavercreek graduate who then pitched for the Dayton Flyers, is trying to work his way back to the big leagues three years after making his debut. He made four relief appearances with the Texas Rangers in April 2017 and two appearances, including one start, a season later with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Hauschild, 30, started the 2019 season in the St. Louis Cardinals organization in Triple-A Memphis and ended it in Texas with the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League, an independent league. He then pitched in the winter in the Dominican Republic. This year, he’s planning to play in Durango, Mexico. That’s where he was in March when the entire sports world shut down.
“I was down there for almost two weeks,” Hauschild said. “We had just started doing our normal spring-training things. I threw a bullpen. I threw a live BP. Then I threw a two-inning (simulated) game. Then I was scheduled to throw in an exhibition game.”
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Two days before that meeting, the Durango Generals announced practice was canceled, and there would be a team meeting the next day. They then announced the season wouldn’t start on time. Eventually, just like Major League Baseball, the season was postponed.
At this point, Hauschild has hopes of the Mexican League starting in late June or early July. His goal is to pitch well enough to get another chance in the minor leagues and make another run at the big leagues. His experience last summer in the Atlantic League showed him he still loves the game.
“I started having fun in baseball again,” Hauschild said. “Guys aren’t playing (independent) ball to make money. They’re playing because they still love the game. It was fun to be around guys like that. We’re trying to win every game. It’s not about player development.”
Hauschild also experienced the Atlantic League’s robo umps. The league began using an electronic strike zone last season. A network of lasers determine balls and strikes, though a real ump is still in place and can overrule the computer or call strikes on checked swings.
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“It was kind of mixed on that,” Hauschild said. “Not every stadium had the same strike zone. It was tough figuring that out.”
The downside of the Atlantic League is the travel. Sugar Land is a long way from the rest of the teams on the east coast. The worst trip included a 45-minute bus ride to the airport in Houston, a flight to Charlotte, N.C., and then another three-plus hour bus ride to High Point, N.C.
Of course, Hauschild and most players would probably give anything for a bus trip right now if it meant baseball was being played. Right now, Hauschild is preparing as if he’ll be returning to Mexico in about a month. His arm feels good.
“I haven’t been in a hurry to keep throwing,” he said. “When I was ramping up to go to Mexico, I was like, ‘I have to throw every day.’ Today if I don’t feel like throwing, OK, I’ll take a day off. I really haven’t lost anything from what I’ve seen. It feels good to take personal days as I need them.”
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