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Former Power RHP Dane Renkert Discusses His Release

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Options abound for Power's Renkert

Jacob Messer

Charleston Daily Mail sportswriter


If he doesn't make it to the Major Leagues, chances are West Virginia Power relief pitcher Dane Renkert simply will succeed in another endeavor.


He certainly has enough irons in the fire.


Renkert writes a weekly column for the newspaper in his hometown of Bellingham, Wash. He also co-owns a granite company there.


"I want to have something to fall back on," said Renkert.


Renkert graduated from Washington State University, where he majored in communications with an emphasis on journalism.


Editors at The Bellingham Herald, a daily newspaper that has covered him throughout his baseball career, asked Renkert if he wanted to write a weekly column during the season.


Renkert, an outgoing young man who said he has "lots of stuff to talk about," loved the idea.


"I get to write about the life of a minor leaguer," Renkert said. "It's a way to vent and a way to share."


His column is published each Sunday and can be found online at www.bellinghamherald.com.


"I usually try to wait as long as possible (before I write it) because something might come up I want to write about," Renkert said. "I jot down some notes Thursday and Friday, then I hand write it Saturday. It's basically written in my head before I put it on paper."


Renkert said his life after baseball will include writing, preferably for a newspaper.


He undoubtedly would be a knowledgeable reporter on a baseball beat.


"I will definitely stick with it," Renkert said.


Ditto for his granite company, which makes customized products for commercial and residential projects.


Among their items are backsplashes, countertops, fireplaces, tabletops and vanities. Check out www.cornerstone1001.com to learn more.


Renkert co-owns the business with two of his former college teammates, Jeremy Farrar and Brandon Hundt.


They are older than Renkert and worked for another granite company after they graduated.


"They learned the ins and outs of the business," Renkert said. "We decided to go into business for ourselves. I have a lot of connections in Bellingham. They moved to my hometown, and we got ourselves a business license."


Coincidentally, Hundt could have played for the Power if his career hadn't ended because of an injury. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers' rookie-league team in Helena, Mont., in 2004.


Renkert works for Cornerstone during the six-month offseason.


"That is a lot of down time, and we don't make a lot of money in the minor leagues," Renkert said.


"I don't do a lot of the heavy labor like they do. I handle sales and customer service. It's an easy product to sell because they are so good at what they do."


The 24-year-old Renkert won't have to worry about writing stories or selling stone if he continues to pitch like he has this season.


Renkert, a 6-foot, 210-pound right-hander whom the Brewers drafted in the 29th round last June, owns a 5-2 record with four saves and a 1.56 earned run average.


He has recorded 28 strikeouts compared to 10 walks in 34 2/3 innings, and he has surrendered 23 hits (one homer) and 11 runs (six earned) in that time.


"It's an individual accomplishment that goes with team success," Renkert said of his impressive performance this season.


"I couldn't do it without the rest of the team behind me."


Renkert attributes his success with the Power this season to his stint with the team last season, when as a rookie he compiled a 2-0 record with a 0.00 earned run average in 14 1/3 innings after he posted a 2-1 record with a 2.75 earned run average in 26 2/3 innings at Helena.


"I took advantage of the opportunity I was given," Renkert said.


"It was a good introduction of what I would face this season."


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Editor's note: West Virginia Power pitcher Dane Renkert writes a weekly column for his hometown newspaper, The Bellingham (Wash.) Herald. This is his favorite, from April 23.


Time away from loved ones can take its toll on players, coaches


It's so easy to lose yourself in this game that sometimes it's important to take a step back and separate yourself from the game and get back into your life.


It's a difficult task to put so much energy into a job, and still have the wherewithal to control your life outside of it.


Each year players, coaches and staff members leave the other half of their life behind -- wives, girlfriends, children and families -- with the knowledge that for each spring and summer contact will be limited to drawn out repetitive phone calls and an occasional visit.


Sitting on the bus before and after games, you hear voice tones change and the questions of "How was school today?" or "Did you have a good day at work today?"


It's an eye-popping wakeup call that draws you away from the schoolyard game that we play day in and day out.


A prime example of this happened this week with one of my favorite teammates, Wilfredo Laureano, a native of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Laureano is not only a professional athlete, but also the father of a 2-year-old daughter.


A few days ago, he was unusually quiet and not up to his usual antics as we prepared for that day's game, so I approached him. I offered him a portion of my fruit snacks and asked what was up.


A slight pause proceeded, then his eyes welled up as he responded in a quiet voice, "I miss my family; I miss my baby."


It was a humbling and unexpected answer, and one that I can't fully relate to. I have only my family and friends, and I can only imagine what it would be like adding a significant other and a child on top of that.


Although we all wear the same uniform and share the same locker room, we all have different backgrounds and differ on how we got to where we are now. On this team, in particular, the age differential is something that sticks out with players ranging from 18 to 25.


With that many different backgrounds, there are so many stories to tell.


One of those is Kenny Holmberg, who is the true definition of a "dirt bag" on the field and a player whose leadership skills tower over his short stature.


Drafted as a senior out of NAIA powerhouse Embry Riddle in the 22nd round of last year's Major League draft, the second baseman is taking advantage of the opportunity he has been given. His keys to success are having the ability to never be satisfied and each day working as hard as he can to improve on different aspects of what makes him a good player.


He also emphasizes the importance of being a good teammate, no matter what his personal output was on that specific day.


If we're down two runs late in the game and you hear a pair of spikes skipping through the dugout and a voice echoing encouragement, there is only one person it can be: The one we call "Pauly Shore."

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Some of Dane Renkert's previous contributions:




April 2, 2006


Superstitions pay off with a visit to the big leagues


Although I have seen many things throughout my baseball career, I think the most interesting thing is how players prepare themselves for a game or even a day of practice.


For example, I came into the locker room the other day to find a crowd of thirty guys standing over a game of chess.


But, everyone has their own individual preparation habits, everything from listening to music to catching a few extra z's in their locker. Some guys prepare by shining their shoes, taping a bat or simply visualizing what they want to accomplish on that particular day.


If a guy did a crossword puzzle the same day he threw a five-hit shutout or had four hits, you can guarantee he will be sitting in that same spot trying to figure out what No. 33 across is the following day.


Superstition plays a role, whether guys like to admit it or not. Whatever works best for that individual - strange or not - is a fact of all sports.


Personally, I don't get too creative: I usually just relax, maybe read the paper or listen to music. The only strange thing that I do is clean my shoes in order - the right one has to be first.


The first thing I heard as I entered the locker room last Sunday was, "Renkert, go get some gray pants!"


So I stopped, tried to gather my thoughts and figure out why I would want to wear grey pants instead of the normal white. Still unsure, I asked.


The response was simple, yet gratifying: "You're going to the big league game today."


Among other thoughts rushing through my head, I felt like asking if he could rephrase that as: "You're conquering a lifelong dream today."


My first true big league experience of my career was filled with sharing a lunch table and locker room with the likes of Milwaukee Brewers manager Robin Yount and stars Ben Sheets and Jeff Cirillo. Not only being in the same room, but wearing the same uniform and being part of Milwaukee Brewers when they took the field.


Almost more amazing than the experience was the day that it fell on. On that day seven years ago, I lost three of my closest friends in a fatal car accident - a moment that is forever a daily reminder of how short life really is.


So when I chose what number I wanted for the upcoming season, I asked for No. 8 in remembrance of one of my friends in the accident, Pete Staskiews. The number was already taken, so the closest I could do was No. 44 - thinking the two digits combined to equal eight.


Although I didn't get to pitch in the game, I was there in uniform taking all the free sunflower seeds and bubble gum I could fit in my pockets.


I also found out this week where I am heading for my first full season. I'll be heading to Charleston, W.V., to play for the West Virginia Power in the Class A South Atlantic League.

The team plays in Appalachian Power Park. (Renkert played eight games with the Power last season after being promoted from rookie-level Helena).


With spring training almost done and 144 games in the near future, my second professional season starts next week.


Go Power!




April 16, 2006


An even keel vital to success in minors




There is a saying in the San Antonio Spurs' locker room that "It takes a diamond cutter one hundred taps to cut a diamond, the 100th tap being no more important than the first."


With long bus trips, hot weather and the grind of playing every day, this statement seems true for minor league baseball players, too.


Everyone can play good when they feel good, but with a long season it's even more important to play harder when slumps come and the bumps and bruises appear. Although this game takes tremendous skill and ability, courage and heart outweigh the natural skills that make a good baseball player.


Part of baseball is striking out and giving up home runs, bad at bats and forgetful pitching outings.


Is your reaction the same after you hit a home run as it would be if you struck out? Would you do the same if you struck out the side or gave up the game-winning hit?


Obviously inside you will feel different when the two ends of the spectrum - success and failure - are at play. But the ability to stay on an even keel and reacting the same after the positive and negative is more important then I originally thought.


Every game, more then a few guys come back to the dugout swearing, throwing helmets and bats. A pointless action that not only stems negativity throughout the dugout, but it is also something that may get carried over when the team is playing defense.


If you go 0 for 5 at the plate, it doesn't mean that you can't make a game-saving play in the last inning and help your team win by playing excellent defense.


The flip side is having the ability to separate the game, not letting your defensive struggles hinder your offensive output. With such a long season that will include five hundred at bats and hundreds of innings played, it's inevitable that there will be ups and downs offensively and defensively. But the real question is how you limit negative streaks.


Being a late-inning pitcher, I get to analyze the game each day from the cozy confines of the bullpen, usually consisting of a few metal chairs or a bench. I pass my time chewing sunflower seeds and bubble gum.


While you wait, you usually can expect to get verbally beat up by a hostile crowd and, of course, listen the constant echo of, "Can I have a ball?"


But for a pitcher it's a unique sanctuary - it's our day-to-day office. We just replace computers and desks with mounds and plates. It's a place where you can close your eyes and let your senses remind you of where you are.


The smell of hot dogs and burgers is overwhelming and the echoes of the game take over. The yelp of an umpire calling a strike or the sound of a vender screaming "get your popcorn, get your Cracker Jacks" lets you know you are in your element.





May 21, 2006


Impact of doing the simple things can often be underestimated




It?s easy to buy the perfect Christmas present for someone, but the impact of a card on top filled with real words is better than any gift. Or surprising someone with breakfast in bed on Saturday morning, although the pancakes were burnt, the eggs a little soggy and the bacon extra crispy, it?s the thought that counts.


Whether it be a thank you to a stranger, or an unexpected birthday card to a long-lost friend, the impact of doing the simple things is often underestimated.


This fact of using a simple act to make someone?s day happened to me the other day as a young boy approached me and asked, ?Can you sign my ball??


As I walked over to the 10-year-old boy, he stuck his hand out halfway, possibly frightened by my stature or just surprised.


After giving my best John Hancock, and making sure he was enjoying himself, I returned the scuffled, heavy, old ball and turned to walk away.


But something caught my ear, and I couldn?t help but overhear the young boy ask his mom with excitement, ?Can I hang the ball in my room??


Immediately I flashed back to practicing the perfect combination of scribbles and letters ? not so my checks would look nice, but so that maybe one day I would be able sign it on a ball and have it mean something.


For this young boy, the big present may have been his mom bringing him to the game. But my taking a few seconds to sign the ball will hopefully be what he remembers.


A slice of back home popped up this week as my dad came to visit for a week. He checked out the place I call home and paced in the stands while I pitched.


His vacation was filled with late dinners and evenings, introductions to teammates and getting an idea of my life away from home. For me, it was a great way to catch up on old times ? and new ? and get an analytical point of view of pitching from someone who saw me throw my first ball.


It?s always good seeing someone from home. While you enjoy hearing the voice of someone on a phone thousands of miles away, it?s always better to be sitting across from them at a dinner table.


The flashbulb from the camera may have gone off one too many times while he was at the park, but I got two wins while he was here. So I guess it didn?t harm anything.





June 4, 2006


Living for today, not yesterday




There is a Beatles song called, "Yesterday," and although the melody is based upon a girl, its words relate to much more.


The song begins, "Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as there here to stay, oh I believe in yesterday. Suddenly I'm half the man I used to be ..."


When using this song metaphorically towards baseball it falls into context - not only when focusing too much on the positive, but also on the negative.


Our coach always preaches, "Tomorrow is another day!"


Win or lose this statement seems reasonable, as it's unrealistic that everyone in the clubhouse played their best game on that given day. But, if you did play a good game on that day you can't expect the same in tomorrow's game.


With the distinct possibility of failure, the high of yesterday and the low of today will be a long and forgettable journey.


As with almost anything in life when things are going good, things seem effortless and simple. But, personally speaking, when things go bad, the eager competitor in me comes out and my mind runs circles around what could have been done differently.


Before you know it, it's tomorrow, and yesterday is nothing but a memory. I don't let yesterday poison my today.


For example, yesterday I wore one of my best friends sleeves from college for some reason, and that night had probably my worst outing of the year. After searching for excuses, I realized it was just one of those days.


I had a sacrificial ceremony. I took the sleeves I wore in the game outside, gave them a good long look back at what my friend and I had been through, and then lit them on fire.


The bad smelling smoke clouding the air represented my outing and a final flush from what was then yesterday, with tomorrow right around the corner - without the sleeves.





June 11, 2006


Crucial at-bat a real mind game for pitcher




It's a Friday night, and the stands are packed with fans as we are finishing a five-game homestand in which we have only played one team.


With the series knotted at two games apiece the all-important rubber game is coming down to the final outs.


As our starting pitcher hikes up the stairs to start the eigth inning with a one-run lead, the pitching coach yells down at me, "Get loose, you've got Figeroa!"


Juan Figeroa is a former University of Miami standout, hitting in the middle of the Greensboro Grasshoppers' lineup, and he is due up fourth in the inning.


After a quick stretch and a few arm cirles I begin throwing and thinking back to his at-bats, his approach at the plate and envisioning how I can get him out. He is a contact hitter, stands close to the plate with his hands high. He uses a closed stance and has beat us by hitting the ball the other way.


So in the bullpen my focus turns towards throwing quality pitches down in the zone on the inner half of the plate, trying to expose his weakness by making him make an adjustment.


With a runner on second base and two outs, I take the trot from the bullpen to the pitcher's mound. Once I arrive, the catcher tells me what signs we'll use and a coach reiterates the situation.


As I take my final warmup pitch, Figeroa slams the handle of his bat down, allowing the weight that was tightly wrapped around the barrel to fall to the ground.


So it comes down to this: My ability to effectively attack his weakness by pitching accurately and his ability to hit a mistake, a pitch in which I miss my spot.


The first pitch is a little up and in, and the second slides just inside knee high. All of the sudden I've fallen behind in the count - 2-0 - and with the tying run at second base and a hitter's count, I still have to stick to the plan.


The third pitch is just right, a fastball sinking down at his knees. He takes a good swing, but fouls it off his foot.


Then I get even with a fastball on the inner half of the plate that he turns on and hits almost 90 degrees foul.


Because he has just missed two straight fastballs, I throw another, which he again fouls off.


So I have now effectively exposed his weakness and have control of the at-bat. Because of this, I can go to my out pitch, a changeup. Since he has seen five balls on the inside of the plate, I figure I will throw it outside, thinking that his eyes will light up with the thoughts of finally seeing a ball being where he likes it.


Although it was just an average pitch, he swings right through it for strike three, and their rally is ended.


It was one of the few at-bats that I can vividly remember, but it sticks out for more reasons then one. In pro ball you have a chance to see a hitter over the course of thirty games a season, and inevidibly tendencies form and weaknesses appear.


But the real step comes when you have the ability to expose it by throwing fastballs inside instead of just missing down the middle. Hopefully, more at bats will stick out like this one because as we all know, they don't all turn out with a positive result.

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Season is revealing at its halfway point




As of this Monday we will have reached the halfway point of our season - 70 games in 74 days, halfway home in a season totaling 140 games.


This is my first full season and it has given me the opportunity to learn the habits and particulars of not only my teammates but myself. It's a chance to look back on particular games and understand the difference between an energetic and confident group versus a flat and unprepared group of ballplayers.


I've seen firsthand a slump become a hot streak and a pitcher go from goat in one outing to hero in the next. I've spent many late nights and early mornings on a bus with a movie blaring in the background and the constant flash of streetlights passing me by. And I have seen freak injuries alter careers while watching the injured players' eyes flip open like headlights as their careers flash in front of them.


As the season has progressed specific roles have become more apperant and useful, where late-inning pinch hitters have been a deciding factor and pitching substitions have been successful. We have lost games in the last inning and won some as well and have weathered the ups and downs of a game filled with negativity.


There is one statistic that stands out at this point in the season and a perfect explanation for our overall success and our success in team competiveness. We lead our 16-team league in hitting, but don't have one person in the top 10 of individual hitting. We're a balanced team - when two guys struggle, two more pick up their slack. So as the weather gets hotter and our bodies get a little bit more beat up, you do what you can to be prepared and fresh each day, and look forward to a successful second half.


Today is Father's Day, a day where fathers get their opportunity in the spotlight, while their families give thanks to them for being great fathers or husbands. For me it's a day to reflect on things such as my dad teaching me how to shave, the beauty of the outdoors, how to be a gentleman and, of course, how to play catch in our front yard.


It's a chance for children to slip a card into an envelope with a few scribbles on the inside representing thanks for all of the sacrifices it must take to be good dad. A father is someone who steps in when sticky questions such as sports and girls arise, or how do you tie that hook on again. For sons, a father is an easy shoo-in for a role model - in my case not only a role model but a best friend. He allowed me unlimited opportunities to have the chance one day to be celebrated as well.


Dane Renkert is a relief pitcher for the West Virginia Power of the Class A South Atlantic League. Before he became a member of the Milwaukee Brewers' minor-league system, he played for Sehome High, the Bellingham Bells and Washington State University. He will write about his experiences throughout the season.

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Hospital visit leaves Power player with perspective, gratitude


Athletes are privleged in many ways, whether it is playing a game for a paycheck, or just doing something you love.


Each day means playing with and being with a group of guys that shares the same passion for playing between the white lines.


But as important as the on-field actions are and their effect on the fans and supporters alike, athletes also have the advantage of interacting with local communities. We do things such as visiting local elementary schools, visiting with students and reading their favorite stories to them.


This week, one of my bullpen mates, Patrick Ryan, took this idea of interacting with the local community to the next level. He took time out to visit the Women's and Children's Hospital in Charleston, W.V., and visited with extremely ill children ranging in age from 3 to 16 years.


During Patrick's visit he interacted with the young children and couldn't say enough about how big and bright their smiles were. He got to learn a little about each patient and share some of his own stories with the wide-eyed youngsters. He answered several different versions of the question of what it's like to be a pro ball player and autographed some baseballs before leaving the hospital.


He cracked a half-smile while recalling his experience with the children, but even that was short-lived as he realized some of those bright, young and vibrant children had terminal illnesses.


When speaking to Patrick about his experience, two words that continued to pop up were "positive" and "perspective." Speaking of the time spent with the children and the outcome was the "positive" and using the experience to put his own minor problems and issues into "perspective."


He said he feels blessed to be in the position of an athlete for the young children and stand as a possible idol, but feels that he probably got more from the children then he ever would have imagined. Patrick said he realizes each day he has the opportunity to do something he loves and gets to choose his lifestyle; this trip to the hospital made it very apparent that not everyone has that choice.


Sixteen games into the second half, we are sitting at .500 and four games back, looking for some of the consistency and late-inning heroics we had at the end of the first half. With only eight games at home for the entire month of July, we are trying to keep our heads somewhere near the top and make a push in the dog days of August for a playoff spot.

We're off to Lexington, Ky., and Lookwood, N.J., for the next week, so wish us luck and enjoy the sunshine and cool breezes of the Northwest.

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Days off just as crucial as days on the mound


I have had several people approach me about what I do after an outing and how much I must enjoy having a day off every once in a while. In actuality the off days are much more difficult and in some instances more important than "on days," and make toeing the rubber the easy part.


Let's say, for instance, I throw 1 1/3 innings but throw thirty pitches. This equation would equal tomorrow being an "off" day and thus no chance of me throwing. What does this mean? It means I have that one day to keep myself in shape - and it means showing up to the field even earlier then if I was playing.


You get the chance to get a good long stretch in, followed by a long and steady flush run and a quick full-body workout. Prior to the game, I have a chance to play "long toss" stretching out my arm to heal from yesterday and prepare for tomorrow.


The importance of these minor steps is something I feel is underestimated and something fans don't realize. So much hard work and preparation proceeds game activity and without it fatigue and struggles will be apparent. The next time you see a pitcher - whether it be the flabby build of David Wells, or the bulky one of Kyle Farnsworth - know there were hours of preparation leading up to that moment.


This is just one example of what happens behind the scenes, one of the many things that happens before the front gates open and the popcorn pops. It's what happens from a player's perspective on how, in the heat of the moment, preparation outdoes raw skill and talent. How a day off can be a powerful combination of hard work and relaxation blended together for a potent outcome.




"The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America's rolled by like an army of streamrollers, and it's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. It's in our past. It reminds us all of what once was good."


This is a quote from the fictitious author Terrance Mann, played by James Earl Jones in the epic film "Field of Dreams." It's a reminder of a game that has been through so much in its 125-year tenure in our nation.


It's played everywhere from inner-city streets to suburban yards, all the way up to mammoth stadiums. It's known as "America's pastime." It's the only sport where coaches wear the team's uniform, and the only sport not bounded by a running clock.


Although the film represents dreams and concepts that are mystic and unreal, Terrance Mann's quote represents truth and all that is real and individual to baseball.


Dane Renkert is a pitcher for the West Virginia Power of the Class-A South Atlantic League. Before joining the Milwaukee Brewers organization he played for Bellingham High School, Washington State and the Bellingham Bells. He will write about his experiences throughout the season.

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Two bad outings can't affect an entire season


Irony: An expression of utterance marked by a delibrate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.


This week stood as kind of a personal milestone for me, one of what will hopefully be many in upcoming years. I reached my 100th inning as a professional pitcher, and although it was a satisfying moment the weary game filled with irony stuck its head out.


In this season I started strong and had a solid middle part of the year. I gave up just eight runs in 57 innings of work and looked to be on the way for finishing my sophomore season better then ever imagined.


Then, like the flash of a match things changed. In two long innings I had given the same number of runs in those two innings as I had in the previous 57. It was like being hungry as can be and then biting into a frozen cheeseburger, or rotten banana.


It was an amount of failure I hadn't felt in my career yet and acted as an eye-opener. I had the realization that failure is inevitiable. How did this happen in just two innings? It's a game of inches. Ground balls became line drives and quality strikes became meatballs in the middle of the plate.


More then anything, I think when things are going well you think you are untouchable and therefore underestimate your opponent. When this happens the wrath of runners going around the bases like a merry-go-round was the result.


In this sport based on failure, coaches and managers are more worried about not only how you react to failure, but they also want you to realize you are evaluated on your consistency through a long season, not one or two bad outings.


It was a learning experience, that's for sure, and I just hope that once that merry-go-round starts I have the ability to stop it.




Aspiration: A strong desire for high achievement. A key word for anyone looking to be successful in any field, whether it's business or athletics.


In my profession every player who gets the opportunity has the same goal of someday playing in the major leagues.


When you get there, you've achieved your goal.


But then what?


You have set this lofty goal and somehow passed all these great players in front of you and held off the ones behind. So I asked my coach this question of how to stay motivated after a lifelong goal has been met.


The answer was elementary: you become the best at whatever you do. And, most importantly, you do whatever you can personally to be on a winning team and know that all-star games and playoff appearances will come with aspiring to be the best at your job.


Dane Renkert is a pitcher for the West Virginia Power of the Class-A South Atlantic League. Before joining the Milwaukee Brewers organization he pitched for Bellingham High School, the Bellingham Bells and Washington State University. He will chronicle his experiences throughout the season.

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Grueling schedule puts offseason preparation to the test


Six months ago, as spring training was approaching and a rigorous off-season conditioning program was ending, I felt there was no way I could wear down during the season.


I felt I had graduated from the stage of preparation for the long season to being prepared for the continual cycle of being active day in and day out.


Now, with one month left, the realization of imperfection is here, and what I thought was enough was only scratching the surface. Both things controllable and uncontrollable have had effects on the slow tearing down of both the mind and body.


Parts of the season sailed along like a sleek boat on a calm day, and other days your only wish is to scream into the infinite abyss with anger and frustration.


With built-in excuses for failure being so easy to find, it's hard to look past them and know you're only in control of your actions and therefore your results.


It's been a season where proposed pre-game rituals have become habitual and self-reflection has been a rude wake-up call to the inevitability of not being invincible.


It has created an interesting and entertaining reflection of what steps were taken prior to this season. It also makes you realize what needs to be done differently during the next off-season and where your focus must change.


In essence, I'm using my body as a personal scale or gauge of what I felt worked well and what needs improvement.




With time zones, late nights and long bus rides, it's a difficult task to try and stay in touch with home and keep up with those close to me.


So my mom took it upon herself to avoid these disruptions for a week and come to watch me play.


She got a visual image of what I have told her over the phone about my job - my lifestyle.


Besides getting to see me play for the first time as a professional, she was able to meet my diverse group of teammates and coaches. Although her first priority was seeing me and the historic sites around the area, she enjoyed the games and noticed the level of seriousness at this level compared to that of college or high school.


Her visit was a perfect reminder of what will always come first, and that is family and those close to me. It's so easy to get caught up in the repetitive nature of baseball that when someone visits it's a nice portal back down to earth and what is real.


Dane Renkert is a relief pitcher for the West Virginia Power of the Class A South Atlantic League. Before becoming a member of the Milwaukee Brewers' minor league system, he was a played for Sehome High, the Bellingham Bells and Washington State University. He will chronicle his thoughts and experiences during the baseball season.

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Power's batboy has ultimate summer occupation


He is the unheralded left tackle to a good running game in football, or the forgotten point guard to a good big man in basketball.


Well, not really, but for our team he is one of the constant figures at all of our home games. And when you first think of his job, blooper reels flash in your head along with small children wearing a jersey with a BB on the back and a helmet two sizes too big.


He is our batboy, Brian Wogesevic, a 16-year-old West Virginian who has spent the past two summers fetching balls and filling coolers for the West Virginia Power. And what started as just another summer job has become a hobby. For him it's not only a chance to meet future big leaguers but also new friends. Brian had no hesitation when asked his favorite part of the job.


"Hanging with the guys," he said.


Interacting with guys only a few years older and getting a small taste for the lifestyle of a minor league baseball player also are perks for him.


He relates it to having 25 older brothers constantly playing practical jokes, but also giving advice about growing up, making the right life decisions and learning from the mistakes we made.


Although Brian has no future in baseball and this is his last summer as a batboy, he said he will take a lot from his experiences wearing jersey No. 7 for us.




In sports I think it's more true than in any other field that when things are going well, everything that used to be difficult comes so easily.


Just like a coin, though, the idea of things going well is double-sided. One day you can make a mistake, but still be successful, and the next day you can try your best but not succeed.


The first four months of the season were like butter melting in a hot pan, sizzling with success and full of confidence. With personal goals being surpassed and although success was apparent, acceptance of that being good enough never entered the picture.


In comparison, the last month has like climbing up a vertical hill, with no water and still unable to see the top.


If anything could have gone wrong it has.


The power has gone off and that lonely, cold butter can't wait until the heat gets turned back on. It's all a learning experience of how to counter success with failure and how to make success the constant instead of flipping a coin - one side success and the other failure.


Dane Renkert is a pitcher for the West Virginia Power of the Class A South Atlantic League. Before joining the Milwaukee Brewers organization, he pitched for Sehome High School, Washington State University and the Bellingham Bells. He is chronicling his experiences for The Herald this season.

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Down the home stretch: Season finally coming to a close




All of a sudden a season that seemed so long is now coming to a quick and abrupt ending.


Nine games left and there's a realization that parting with my teammates and coaches is no longer something in the future - it's now.


Looking back on the season the things I will miss most are those things that at the time I hated. Like the long bus rides filled with playing cards and watching movies and simply finding unique ways to pass the time. Thanks to those long bus rides I'll ask former teammates what they miss most about being away from the game, and their answers will be the same: Simply, being around the guys and going to battle with your teammates.


There's going through the sometimes unbearable and vicious cycle of negativity, overcoming it with success or vice versa.


And now there's no more waking up and realizing the only thing you have to do on that day is go play a game that I am fortunate enough to call work.


As I have said before I am lucky enough to have played with such a diverse group of players filled with those that have raw talent and others that are overachievers. Playing with a centerfielder that runs a 6.19-second 60-yard dash, yet each day makes impossible plays look routine. There's a catcher built like a rock whose first name is Angel, and an emotional team leader whose nickname is coincidentally "Homey."


Thus another thing I will miss is shaking their hands on second base after winning that day's game. It's impossible to say enough about a group that for six months have been my teammates and my family who have given nothing but their blood, sweat and tears for the game


Personally speaking it's been a season similar to the story of "Jekyll and Hyde," as if two different people pitched on both sides of the midway point. The numbers don't lie. Here's a breakdown. Pre-All Star break I was 5-2 with a 1.29 earned-run average in 24 games with five saves. In 42 innings I gave up 27 hits and six earned runs.


After the All-Star break I went 0-6 with a 6.21 ERA in 23 games with one save and in 33 1/3 innings gave up 46 hits and 23 earned runs. Although I lead my team in several pitching categories - including appearances and holds - those are dramatic changes and something that will be addressed this offseason, whether it be psychologically or physically.


This is a game where a player has to take advantage of opportunities, and those opportunities are created by hard work and consistency. Either way you look at it, I still have a uniform on and will do whatever it takes to keep it on as long as possible with no regrets of the two things we all contol - effort and attitude.

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Living with baseball's revolving door




Twenty five weeks later and 140 games in the books the season has ended and I once again am back in Bellingham.


Once again back where street names and buildings are familiar, and where seeing familiar faces is a constant not a coincidence. But being gone for that long a time period from the place you call home is a perfect example of things continually changing.


Life is like a revolving door giving everyone opportunities to step inside or wait for the next door to swing your way. I come home to new buildings being built and old ones taken down. My good friends now have unfamiliar facial hair and the talks of marriage and careers has replaced the old chatter of what to do on Friday night.


I come home to my parents remodeling and telling exciting stories of the past summer and how they spent it. My older sister's life has slowed down with added responsibilities, and a new companionship has been formed creating stability and a twinkle in the eye.


It's good to be back home, but the thoughts of freshly cut grass, the crack of a bat and celebrating with teammates is still fresh in mind and right around the corner.


Although the season is over the preparation leading into spring training has already begun.


With ideas on how to improve being conjured up the greatest way to prepare is to reflect on last season and realize what and how to improve on specific needs. With last season being my first full season it's a perfect gauge on what its going to take for the mind, body and soul to compete for that length of time at that level.


So, with an organized plan of successful ideas and a timeline laid out, the only thing left to find is the character deep inside to complete it. When searching for the character and challenging myself their really only needs to be one thought - the future and what could be.


The bright lights bounding down on me, 50,000 fans and laying down at night with the calm thoughts of completing and achieving what I set out to do. Hopefully, giving the example that if I can do it anyone can, it's just the simple idea of having a dream and chasing it through all the detours that are life.



Very cool of Dane Renkert to do this, good luck to him in 2007 and beyond. -- Mass

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  • 5 months later...

Thought I would revive this thread.




Close friend's major league opportunity hits close to home



Dane Renkert





I can remember about this time last year standing under the sun at spring training shagging balls during batting practice with my good friend Joe Thatcher.


We were talking about where we would live when we got to our low Class A affiliate in West Virginia ? trying to figure out where we would live, and how we were excited to be making a team. Then together we processed the thoughts of how great it would be to move up during the season and the prospects of becoming that much closer to the big leagues.


Well, Thatcher, a left-hander from nowherville Indiana who was never drafted out of college and who was picked up out of and independent league, started in West Virginia like a steamroller, cruised through the next level and ended the season in Class AA.


His dominance was well noted throughout the organization and the team was so pleased they invited him to play winter ball in Hawaii.


He got to play a 40-game schedule with a collection of young minor league prospects and paid to play on the sandy beaches of Hawaii, calmly improving against stiff competition with a laid-back four-games-per-week schedule.


To make a long story short, Thatcher ended up pitching the final four innings of what was a championship season for the Honu Warriors ? a perfect end to a storybook season.


After celebrating with his teammates Thatcher was able to sneak home just in time for Thanksgiving and a quick three-month hiatus after a long season filled with plenty of travel and success.


And although everyone loves going home and seeing old friends and family, Thatcher was excited about getting back to Arizona ? back to baseball and competing.


He showed up to camp slimmed down and with pocket?s full of experience and fun stories of his travels to tell his teammates.


From the first side bullpen he threw all the way until last week?s game, Thatcher's dominance continued with his tremendous fastball command and movement and the ability to throw breaking balls when needed. His slightly hitched and unique three-quarter arm slot can be noticed from a far.


Then, last week, as we were all stretching, Thatcher was uncharacteristically called off the field for a huddled meeting of coaches and instructors.


I paid close attention and watched Thatcher break this huddle and head into the locker and didn't see him for the rest of the day.


Thinking nothing of it, I called him that evening to see why he left the field and never came back. He said, ?They told me to clean out my locker!?


I exclaimed with a doubt and confusion in my voice, ?Did you get cut??


?No they told me to move all my stuff to the big league locker room, and that I am competing for the last spot on the roster.?


I was immediately silenced with my jaw open and realized that an undrafted, free agent has in two years gone from rookie ball to the doorstep of the majors. Last year we were shopping for a place to live, and now he may now have to shop for a suit to wear as a player to opening day.


You read about these stories all the time how a guy beats the odds to make it big. But for me, happening so close to home, per say, is just another reminder of how close all of us are to achieving a dream.


Dane Renkert is a pitcher in the Milwaukee minor league system. Before joining the Brewers, Renkert played at Sehome High School, for the Bellingham Bells and at Washington State University. He will be writing about his experiences and thoughts in the minor league this season.

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Thanks for the reminder! From the prior week:




Waiting it out in the numbers game

Dane Renkert


It is now only a matter of time before the inevitable, yet unfortunate player releases begin.


The first two weeks of early morning wake-up calls and sharing breakfast with friends and teammates will soon be only a memory for some players.


When your routine of showing up at the field is interrupted by a pear-shaped bald man saying, ?Management would like to speak with you,? it?s never good. Without another step taken, without another word spoken you know its over and you have been cut.


The flashes of stardom and childhood dreams will come to a crashing halt. Other players pass by for that day?s practice, while you sit cleaning out your locker.


There will be those who deserve to be cut and just as many that never saw it coming. Some will be my personal competition and my good friends packing up their gloves and spikes one last time.


Although this is only my second spring training, the inevitability of all this happening is right around the corner as the business end of baseball is about to show its rude face. This has to happen based solely on the numbers.


All you have to do is sneak a peak during stretching as each group is separated by where the management feels players should go. Class A, AA, AAA, etc.


When you have 17 or 18 pitchers in each group, simple mathematics come into play. Each team only will be allowed to carry 12 or 13 pitchers during the season.


If only I could be a fly on the wall in the meetings of management to getter a better idea, a better feel on where I stand and solve the mystery of what the lineups will look like in three weeks.


?So what are they going to do with that guy?? ?Is he going to get moved up??


?You think he will get released??


Just about any player on the playing fields in Florida and Arizona would like to know the answers to those questions.




With minor league spring games staring Saturday, players will have the ability to either weed themselves out or help assure themselves a spot on a staff.


Throwing strikes is the No. 1 key, but you also need to show you can get people out. At this level, pitching coaches set a priority on those two key goals.


As always, conversation turns to who is getting released, and the reality that I, too, fall into that category always makes for a clammy hand conversation. The only thing you can hope for is the decision is based solely on performance and nothing outside of baseball.

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When your routine of showing up at the field is interrupted by a pear-shaped bald man saying, ¡°Management would like to speak with you,¡± it¡¯s never good. Without another step taken, without another word spoken you know its over and you have been cut.


Just wondering, the pear-shaped bald man described by Renekert, is that Gord Ash?

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Unfortunately for Dane Renkert, and for Brewer fans who enjoyed his columns, Dane was among the many farmhands released this week. We're in the midst of updating all the moves in our Transaction Thread, pinned to the top of this forum.


Here's hoping that if Dane chooses not to pursue more pitching opportunities, he will continue to pursue his gift of writing. We wish him and the other players who were released this week well.

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Dreams of playing in major leagues take U-turn



Since my last column in mid- April a lot has happened.


Personal horizons have risen and fallen, and doors have been slammed shut and now cracked back open.


But before I catch you up with my independent baseball career in Fargo, N.D., I thought I would let you know how my Major League Baseball career, for the time being, came to an end.


When the usual 6:30 a.m. alarm clock went off that March morning and I sat up for the first time that day, there was never a thought of being on a plane 10 hours later.


But there I was, in seat 26C on my way home to Bellingham ? not by choice. Instead the expression of getting your ?uniform torn off your back,? came true as I was released by the Milwaukee Brewers.


A short meeting with management and I was taking the dreadful walk that I had written about. Suddenly something that has been my life was over, and my dreams of playing in the major leagues were squashed and left on the fields behind me.


With that, I left a painful chunk of my heart behind ? the part that lived for this game and the competiveness and comaradarie of America?s pastime.


At the time, I remember thinking that if this was the end of my career, I could take nothing but fond memories with lifelong friendships and storybook experiences with me.


This game has provided me with a college degree and life experiences that extend far past the lines of a baseball field.


I was preparing for what I thought could be my first summer without baseball since I could walk.


Through it all, I knew that I would miss the game, but I knew that I would miss my teammates even more ? going to battle with them night in and night out.


Personally not achieving my ultimate goal will be a lifetime of wondering what could have been. The visions of my family and friends at my first big league game have, for the time being, come to a close and put to rest.


But I left the game with no regrets of not working hard enough, and I realize that I just fell into the enormous category of those that played but never made it. Although I personally always thought I could make it, it simply becomes a numbers game, and with so many great athletes the odds are stacked against anyone who ventures into the field of professional athletics.


My career now goes from active to an interesting dinner conversation of my two years of living a child?s dream. I will always be able to say that I was drafted to play a game that to me was nothing but second nature.


When I see my old teammates at my wedding or theirs, there will be no tears shed, just laughs at the time I had being a professional baseball player.


Dane Renkert is a pitcher for the Fargo-Moorehead Redhawks of the independent Northern League. Before being a Redhawk, he played for Sehome High School, the Bellingham Bells and Washington State University and was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers? minor league system.

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