Xavier Scruggs from Colombia, Week 4

Our 70-year-old batboy washing baseballs

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

Blog number four comes to you straight from the beach of Cartagena on my day off. I'm sitting here trying to think of how to explain my experiences the best way I can, but I'm distracted.

I'm distracted because on my left there are three different women in my face asking me if I want a massage. On my right, there is one guy carrying a boom box and another guy beside him rapping to me in Spanish. Straight ahead in front of me (blocking my view of the gorgeous water) are two more women trying to sell me fruit. I look to my left and sun tan lotion is being applied to my skin without my consent. I look to my right and these wannabe gangsters are still rapping. They are getting closer to me as if the louder I hear the rap, the better I will understand it. Then I look back in front of me and one of the ladies is juggling papaya. I'm right in the middle of a circus.

However, I no longer have to think about what to write about, because my inspiration is right in front of me. Everyone out here is grinding to make a dollar. That is part of what I love about Cartagena. Everyone is hustlin', and I respect their grind. I had to bargain just to get the beach chair I'm using. Homeboy was trying to give me the "gringo" price at 10 dollars and I said "No muchacho. That's not gonna' fly. You better take this dollar or else I'm lying on the sand". He understood that and took what I offered him.

This place still amazes me every day. It is so beautiful here and everyone I have met has been really nice to me. So what if some of them think I'm Colombian? I'm glad I blend in sometimes. Less opportunity for them to take advantage of me.


    (Photos: Our 70-year-old batboy washing our batting practice balls, Henry Henry from last blog, guy selling arepas and soda on the bus, flooded street, my three-course meal)

    This past week has been very interesting. We didn't play for three straight days because it rained cats and dogs here. When it just rains a little, the game is automatically cancelled because our field can't take much water. It immediately floods. That is the same for most of the city. A lot of areas will start to flood and when that happens you don't even want to go outside because it's hard to walk from one place to the next. That is unless you're wearing no shoes and your bathing suit everywhere you go.

    Those days we didn't play I went to the gym, which is located maybe 10-12 miles away from my apartment. Even that was a hassle because with all the flooding, it took a good hour and a half just to get from the gym back to my apartment.

    It's all good though because inside the mall where the gym is located, there is a Subway. So your boy has been "eating fresh" on the way back. Also there is a place call "crepes and waffles". They make waffles with all types of toppings including ice cream, cinnamon, apples and whipped cream. Gotta' stay away from that place if I'm trying to go 20/20 next year. For those of you who don't know what that means, you need to get your baseball lingo up.

    So, we had our first game of the week on Friday. We lost two of three to Barranquilla. Donavan Solano killed us. I think he ended up hitting three home runs against us this past weekend. I didn't have the best weekend, only going 3-for-13. It was especially disappointing since I was Player of the Week last week. I really wanted to have another strong week, but I'm not trippin' because I know I will ball out next week for sure.

    The sun is starting to go down here but I think I will stay on the beach a little longer. I would go back to my apartment and maybe Skype my family or check my email, but guess what? Your boy still doesn't have wireless internet in his apartment. Haha. I'm just expecting to never get it now. They are trying to tell me that they are going to get the wireless card you can put in your computer to have internet anywhere you go. Haha. I won't hold my breath.

    Other than that, Colombia has been cool. I'm watching a lot of soccer or futbol. It is by far the most popular sport down here. That's all they play on ESPN or should I say ESPN Deportes. Ha, yes it is real and soccer is on that channel 24/7. I'm a fan of soccer but I would rather play it on Playstation. I will play FIFA all day on the PS3. Speaking of Playstation, I made the rookie mistake by not bringing my system down here. I'm really regretting it. But anyway, I'm getting off topic.

    I need to tell you guys about our last game we played on Sunday. We had the game in Barranquilla, which is two hours away. Everything went according to plan right up until the game. #1. The bus was a good 45 minutes late picking us up. #2. A random dude jumped on the bus and stayed on for at least 30 minutes. He was selling arepas and sodas. #3. They played a movie on the bus that was so loud my ears were still ringing during the game.

    No wonder I didn't get any hits. The game went off track, too. We had a nice short four hour game during which we lost 18-5. I mean there were innings when I was standing at first and I could feel my legs go numb for standing so much. I'm positive we used every single pitcher that we had and pitchers I didn't even know we had.

    After our two o'clock game ended at six, we all got dressed (mind you, no showers at the field) and waited for our bus to arrive. Our coach told us the bus broke down and we'd have to wait 30 minutes for it to come. We ended up sitting outside the stadium until 9:30. No food and no shower. You could only imagine what the other Americans and I were discussing for 3 1/2 hours. I'm glad we finally made it back though.

    It's been a crazy week but I can't complain because I'm out here doing what I love to do in a place I probably wouldn't be if I didn't play baseball. It's a little weird just because Christmas is coming up this week and I won't be with any family. My family knows I miss them though and I'm thinking about them every day, so I'll get though this first Christmas without my family just fine. Ok, enough mushy stuff. I'm too manly for all that.

    Thanks to everyone who's been reading up on the blogs. There is much more to come after this week of ball. "Ball till you fall" - that's the motto. Especially since the Cardinals are going to need some new help after "The Machine" left!

    Follow me on Twitter @Xavier_Scruggs.



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