Spring training represented a whirlwind of experiences for Bobby Dalbec.
For the first time, the infielder was immersed into the world of major leaguers, having lived life as one of the spring training invitees with a locker down at the end of the home team's clubhouse at JetBlue Park. With eyes and ears open, Dalbec soaked in the information and education from all the big leaguers right up until he was ultimately assigned to Double-A Portland.
But there was a moment that separated itself from the rest. That was courtesy David Ortiz.
"We were playing at the Twins' complex one of the days and David Ortiz sat next to me for maybe 2 1/2, three innings and talked to me about hitting and pressure situations," Dalbec recalled while appearing on the Bradfo Sho podcast.
So, what was the advice?
"Just take a deep breath. It’s just like any other at-bat, physically," he noted. "I didn’t talk very much. He did a lot of the talking. I asked him a couple of questions about hitting, what he thought of and why he did certain things. He gave me those answers and then he would off on other things."
The topic of remaining even-keel in the big moments is clearly of interest to Dalbec, who has continued to impress since his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. The infielder has hit six homers in 23 games with the PawSox, pounding out three in his last four games.
And it has been the combination of advice given by the likes of J.D. Martinez (who he still texts with on occasion about hitting), Ortiz and his father that has allowed for this evolution to continue.
"Whatever trigger you can find to kind of gets you to where you feel this isn’t a huge thing, whether it’s counting down from five to put you in the present moment or a deep breath," Dalbec said.
"I mix it up. I usually take a deep breath or I’ll stare the label of my at-bat or stare at my batting gloves or I’ll just count down. If my mind is really racing that day I’ll just count from five. My dad actually showed that to me a couple of weeks ago and it has worked a couple of times."
And it is the latest bit of advice from Tim Dalbec has seemed to truly take root. Five, four, three, two, one ...
"Even in the box instead of just sitting there and thinking about nothing before the pitch is thrown, a lot of stuff can pop in your head," said Dalbec when describing how he implements the suggested countdown. "Just counting down from five it gives you something you can see and say to yourself that keeps you in the present moment."
Dalbec's next test when it comes to lowering the heart rate may be as a major leaguer, with the third baseman-turned-first baseman having entered the conversation when it comes to earning a spot on next year's Opening Day roster. Since Dalbec isn't on the 40-man roster a September call-up may be somewhat of a longshot, but that doesn't mean his presence won't be felt when it comes to next year's big league club.
And when that time comes ...
"I’m going to try my best to try and treat it like any other at-bat," he said. "Obviously, it’s easier said than done and nobody can actually do that. Controlling that situation will be a big thing, try not to get too nervous. Just be as calm as I can be which be hard."