Talkin' with the Salts

Media relations intern Jon Wilhite took a week off from his normal blog after graduating last weekend, and in its place comes a group effort blog from the Titans' Salty Vererans. The players of the group found themselves writing at a special Salt Round Table held at Round Table Pizza in Fullerton, Wednesday afternoon. The Salty Veterans meet to tell stories and perform rituals with a few different types of sodium chloride prior to each game.

BLOG FOURTEEN (May 22, 2008)If you get to the ballpark a few minutes before game time you will notice a couple groups circled up talking. Take a closer look you will notice one of the circles is a little bit slower, a little bit older, and a little more "salty." The "Salty Veterans," are a handful of players that have been through the wars, survived the battles, and possess the most savvy. The Salts are an older group who show the younger players the right way to play the game. What are the different types of salts?

Grinder Salt
Grinder salt describes veterans who play the game with more heart than ability. Jon Wilhite and Joe Scott are considered grinders on this team, they might not have all the tools but they are going to lay everything on the line every single day.

Seasoned Salt
Some players let their game speak for itself, and then there are players who like to dress the part. Looking good is part of the game, and the seasoned salts know how to look the best. Look in the dugout or on the diamond you will see Matt Fahey falling into that category. Fahey is the prince of flare. Whether he is wearing wrist bands, rocking tape, or sporting new cleats no one tries to look better more than Matthew Fahey.

Table Salt
Everyday salt is necessary for a balanced infield. The corners of the infield need to be held down by smart, salty veterans. Luckily this team has two of the best. Jared Clark and Joel Weeks make sure both lines are covered. Table salts add the necessary flavor to whatever they touch, whether its making diving plays or picking balls at 1st, these two veterans are a perfect mix.

Lite Salt
The younger salts in the group fall under the Lite salt category. Newcomers to the veteran world, and have seen a glimpse of the battlefield. Lite salts are still learning how to deal with being older and adapting to old age is a huge part of becoming a salt. Jeff Newman and Dustin Garneau are the Lite salts of the group. They only have been around the college game for 3 years (no redshirt), but they have just enough salt in them to get the job done.

Kosher Salt
This salt is vital for strength and stamina for our team. Kosher salt helps maintain both strong body and mind, and depicts the all-natural clean-cut look. Jeff Kaplan is Kosher Salt. He has thrown several complete games and has thrown over 130 pitches on multiple occasions.

Catcher Jon Wilhite is a media relations intern in 2008 and will bring his thoughts, insights and interviews to fullertontitans.com throughout the season. The fifth-year senior is one of two Titans remaining from the 2004 national championship squad and was honored with the 2007 Best Teammate Award as voted by his fellow players.

BLOG THIRTEEN (May 13, 2008): I have lived with Matt Fahey for three years and have been his teammate for the past four. In our house he holds the position of landlord and uses his title to try and boss my fellow roommates and I around. He is also known as "Bake" (as in Shake `n Bake) and is my partner in crime off the bench to wreak havoc on opposing pitching staffs. Here are my questions to him:

Tell the fans something that they might not know about you.
Well, when I am not on the ball field, you can find me on the court with my killer crossover and smooth jumper.

Who do you mold your game after?
I think my game resembles a young Mike Sweeney. He gets to live the life. Chill for eight innings... possibly get a crucial at bat ... and if he gets a knock he will most likely get pinch run for.

Now that you have lived with me for the past three years, what you learned from me?
You have taught me how to be frugal and cheap, and how to separate my wants and from my needs. Also you have taught me that just because you have worn a shirt doesn't mean that you have to wash it.

Throughout your four years here, what has been your most memorable on the field moment?
My most memorable moment here so far had to have been my first collegiate home run vs. UC Davis with my family in attendance.

I have noticed that you never button up your jersey, often leaving at least three buttons undone. Why do you do this?
This is one of the many things I do to express my flavor on the field. Aeration is key to keeping the big bear cool on those hot spring days.

I also see that you put on quite a show during batting practice with your defense. What are you doing out there and why do you do it?
I work on perfecting the can of corn fly-ball. Don't try this at home. And to all you youngsters out there ... two hands. You have to learn to walk before you can run.

BLOG TWELVE (May 7, 2008):Today (Wednesday) was a day that every Titan marked on his calender and looked forward to all year -- the Miracle League Clinic.

Every year we host a baseball clinic after one of our practices for a group of young disabled athletes. But believe me, many of these young boys and girls can still play. I worked in the cages and saw the big, powerful swings of "Big Joe," "Hollywood," and many of the other Miracle Leaguers. But the thing that impressed me most about these kids was their attitudes. They were out there having a great time and supporting each other in every activity they did, and had an extreme passion for the game of baseball.

Many of the kids wore their jerseys and on the back that had nicknames such as "Iron Horse," "Kingfish," "Hollywood" and "Showtime." After the stations part of the clinic we had a Home Run Derby, where my fellow teammates and I served as the outfield wall and stood on the infield dirt. When one of the campers hit a home run the place would erupt with cheering from the players and the children's families as the kid went into his trot and rounded the bases.

After this we ate some really good Mexican food supplied by the Miracle League and got a chance to eat and chat with many of the children. All in all, this day was a great experience and was a good reminder to all that we should be thankful for the little things in everyday life that we sometimes take for granted. Thanks again to the Miracle Leaguers for their attendance and we hope to see you out at the yard as we take on the Mustangs of Cal Poly.

BLOG ELEVEN (May 1, 2008): Last night a few of my teammates and I were grabbing a bite to eat, and all of a sudden a small child approached us wearing a baseball uniform. He asked us if we could sign his hat. Being the upstanding citizens that we are, we signed the boy's hat and began a causal conversation with the kid, asking him his age, position, etc. The kid's eyes lit up as if he was star struck, and believe me, I know we're not that cool.

After we were done talking and he and his family had left, I thought to myself, "How cool was that?" We get to do something pretty special here. Playing for one of the elite college programs in college baseball, sometimes you can get caught up in the grind and not get a chance to realize how truly grateful you should be.

To past Titans and the Titan faithful I would like to reassure you that we as a team are extremely grateful to get an opportunity to wear the pinny's each and every day. This weekend we are bringing our brand of baseball to Santa Barbara to take on a very good team in the Gauchos. Hope to see you out there!

BLOG TEN (April, 24, 2008) Today we arrived at Goodwin Field expecting a normal Thursday practice, but instead got something totally unexpected.

While changing in the locker room a sudden commotion occurred and everyone began to stress. "BL" (Brett Lindgren), our volunteer assistant, told a few Titan players that they needed to bring their running shoes out to practice. That usually is bad news for us because it usually means that we are running as punishment for a mistake one of our fellow teammates has committed.

At the start of practice we did our usual individual defensive work and all of the sudden it was brought to a quick halt. Coach Bergeron told us that we had two minutes to put on our running shoes. After running two laps in full practice gear Coach Bergeron told us that we had terrible body language, and summoned us to the locker room to put on shorts. We ran one more lap and were told to bring it up as a team. There, "Bergy" was holding a letter from Coach Serrano that said we are going to enjoy competing... in miniature golf and laser tag at Camelot Amusement Park.

After Kevin Rath and I dominated Bergy and BL in mini golf, we all headed over to laser tag. This is where things began to get really intense. We had 20 guys in this laser tag room sprinting, diving and jumping over obstacles and shooting everything in sight. Jared Clark was the only Titan to finish the day with a perfect 3-0 record in laser tag, while Corey Jones and Matt Powell couldn't shoot the broadside of a barn. Our fun week continues as we take on a very talented ball club in the Aggies. Hope to see you out there.

BLOG NINE (Apr. 17, 2008): As a baseball player you often get called many things other than your real name. For example I have several nicknames that I have already shared with you such as "old school" and "grandpa." But I am not the only one on the team with a nickname. Today I am going to fill you in on many of the different nicknames on our team and give you a little background as to the origins.

Jake "The Steak" Silverman
This nickname was given to Jake because he is a Grade A meathead. He is such a meathead that he travels a holster of A1 sauce and marinates in it nightly.

"Poundesone"
This nickname was given to our young shortstop Christian Colon. During an intrasquad game this fall he told the pitcher to "pound the zone." This was over heard by fellow infielder Joe Scott who thought this was said so fast that he thought Colon was speaking Spanish. Later on, we found out that Christian is not even bi-lingual.

"Goldberg"
This nickname was given to reserve catcher Matt Powell because he resembles the goalie from the movie "The Mighty Ducks."

"Drago"
This nickname was given to catcher Dustin Garneau because he resembles the boxer from Rocky IV, Ivan Drago, aka Dolph Lundgren from Sniper 2.

"Milk Man"
We call Jeff Newman this because of his pasty complexion. The first day we had conditioning, Newman took off his shirt and we were nearly blinded.

"Ant"
We call Corey Jones "Ant/Bug" because if you look really closely he resembles the main character from the movie "Antz" voiced by Woody Allen.

"Billy Wonka"
We call Billy Marcoe this because his dad owns a fudge company in Washington. I actually take credit for this one because I came up with the name right after watching "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with Johnny Depp.

"Bergilicious"
This nickname is given to third base coach Greg Bergeron because he is fresh to def. Check out his fresh Friday night kicks. Many of the jams you hear at Goodwin field are put together by Coach Bergeron. He also will respond to DJ Iceberg, from his young bachelor days as a DJ.

BLOG EIGHT (Apr. 10, 2008): Chris Jones has been my roommate since August and has been my teammate for the last three years. Currently, he is a part of the Morticianers (a group of pinch-hitting specialists), who do their best to win games. I asked him these questions:

Tell some of the Titan faithful something that not many people know about you: I am privileged enough to live with not only the three most intelligent, but the three best looking, most eligible bachelors on our team. (He really said that.)

What is your greatest on-the-field moment as a Titan? My greatest on the field moment actually took place last weekend versus the Anteaters of Irvine. We dominated them before the game even started by holding strong while the colors of our great nation were escorted off the field. Not one person from our team budged while Irvine began preparing for the game.

What is your favorite pre-game snack? It used to be a Power Bar and a Red Bull, but since the addition of Erik Komatsu, he has introduced me to Wheat Thins and Cheez Whiz. It works for him and I will try anything to hit like him at this moment.

How does it feel to be the only Morticianer to have actually won a game this year? (Sac Fly- Mar. 28 vs. UCR, left them on the field after 16 innings of battle.) Individuals don't win games. But it was good for my fellow Morticianers and I to get on the board this year. It was a great game in which our ball club showed a lot of perseverance.

Who since you have been at CSF is the most exciting player you have come across? Definitely Josh Fellhauer. The things that he can do on the field are astonishing for a player of his stature. Sorry, Clark Hardman. (Chris Jones' best friend).

BLOG SEVEN (April 3, 2008): Yesterday I had my fifth and final photo day here at Cal State Fullerton. Yary Photography came out to the field and took team pictures, individual pictures and buddy pictures. Being that I have been here so long, I have had the opportunity to take my individual picture in every uniform combination possible.

The buddy picture is an opportunity for really close friends such as Travis Kelly and Erik Komatsu to reflect on many of the great times they have had together in college.

The team picture in the past seemed to take forever because we had to take around 100 pictures. The photographer would take a picture for every sponsor that we ever had and would put each individual sponsor's name on the scoreboard. But luckily this year the scoreboard was not working correctly so we didn't have to take quite as many photos. If the scoreboard had been working correctly it would have been even worse this year because the person behind me, I won't name any names but he coaches third base, kept nudging my foot because he was trying to seem taller than he really is.

With all joking aside, I am glad that I purchased pictures every year because it is really interesting to see how different each and every team has been. Looking back on old team picture's it is amazing to see how many really close friends I have accumulated, and how truly great some of those teams were.

Well, with our team pictures done with, and the white home uni's put away for a while, we head to Irvine tomorrow to take on the Anteaters. See you at the yard!

BLOG SIX (Mar. 28, 2008) Last week was a good one for us as a team. After getting beat in every aspect of the game on Tuesday against Pepperdine, our team committed to each other to become more blue collar. The next day at practice we worked on the field instead of practicing. We cleaned the locker room, the stands, the batting cages and even scrubbed the pads behind home plate. Then the Rebels came to town and we had three real tough games and were able to grind out victories. For that series our third base coach "Bergy," and our first base coach Brett, brought their hard hats to the yard to remind us of that blue-collar attitude that we had committed to. So tonight we bring that workman like attitude and our lunch pails to the yard to take on the Highlanders as we begin Big West Play. See you out there!

BLOG FIVE (Mar. 21, 2008): We have been on the road a lot already this season. Now that the majority of our major traveling is out of the way, I am going to give you the top 5 places that I have ever played at on the road.

1. Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium (Omaha, Nebraska)
Heaven on earth. This place is the best atmosphere I have ever been around. In this city you are treated like a big leaguer. The Titan house is a great place for players and fans to converse after the game. This is a place you have to see for yourself.

2. Turchin Stadium (Tulane)
This place was absolutely rocking when the `05 Titan's rolled into town. The Green Wave were the No. 1 team in the country and I believe we were No. 3. The fans were intense and definitely did there research on every single player. They had a student section that seated approximately 1,000 drunken students located right behind the visitor's bullpen. Many of the Titan pitchers wore there jackets the entire game or at least until there number was called, in order to prevent the intelligent, yet intoxicated, raggers from individually attacking them.

3. Lewis Field at Clark LeClair Stadium (East Carolina)
This was an awful trip for the Titan's on the field, but was an amazing atmosphere to play in. We showed up to practice Thursday night and were already hearing it from a few fans, and it wasn't even game day! They had a place in the outfield called "The Jungle" where their fans stayed "hydrated" and absolutely abused our outfielders.

4.Eck Stadium (Wichita State)
This could be one of the nicest stadiums that I have ever played at. They have a triple-decker stadium that seemed to shake whenever the Shocker's rally. The fans were pretty harsh at times but they and the Wichita State boosters really won over the Titan's by hosting a meal for us in a luxury banquet hall at the top of the stadium.

5 Kindell Field (Arizona)
We just got back from there last weekend and they had some great crowds. Although they had a few fans who got a little bit out of control, as a whole they are quite creative.

BLOG FOUR (Mar. 12, 2008): Jared Clark and I have lived together for three years, and have played together for four. Jared is a huge part of our offense this year and his main job is to protect Erik Komatsu and to drive in an obscene number of runs. Jared is back in the lineup this year after tearing his ACL in December 2006. Here is an inside interview with the man, the myth, the legend ... Jared Clark.

Tell the fans something that not many people know about you.
Well, many people don't know that I competed in rodeos until the age of 13. My favorite event was calf tying, an event in which I won a few belt buckles.

I have noticed that you wear them every time we go country line-dancing. Why is that?
Because you can take me out of the country but you can't take the country out of me.

To go along with your dancing skills, I have also noticed that you like to sing karaoke. What is your favorite song to sing and why?
Born on the Bayou by Credence Clearwater Revival. I feel like this is my best song because my voice resembles that of a young John Fogerty. This song can really get the crowd going.

When are you going to clean the kitchen?
Next question

What is your greatest sports thrill so far in college?
In 2006 at the CWS I hit a three run, opposite field homerun to give the Titan's a 5-4 lead. I hit it off the Golden Spikes Award winner and current big leaguer Andrew Miller.

Do you like playing first base, better than playing the outfield?
Yes, I enjoy first base more because it is not as far of a run, and I have a better view of the beautiful young ladies that come to the Sunday games.

How was it having to sit out last year after having a good Sophomore year?
It was really hard to have to sit in the dugout and watch. But now I feel that I have a greater appreciation for the game, and I think in the long run that it will be a blessing in disguise.

What's your take on this years team?
I feel very confident with the amount of talent on this years club. We still have some learning to do but once we figure it out we have an opportunity to be great.

Well it's getting late and we leave early tomorrow morning to take on the Wildcats. See you next week.

BLOG THREE (Mar. 4, 2008):Again, Palo Alto's Sunken Diamond was not to kind to the Titans. Although the trip was a rough one on the field, without a doubt, the most difficult part of our trip was our flight home. We arrive to our gate at San Jose Airport where a 12-year-old dance team is there practicing its routines. After a 20-minute delay, our flight finally took off and had me desperately waiting for the OK to turn on my iPod, to drown out the annoying sounds of nearly twenty excited little girls.

After about an hour, we began our descent into Ontario where we were met with an abundance of turbulence. We were no higher than 100 feet off the ground and our plane was still swaying side to side. There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to crash. My mom, who was sitting to my left, was saying prayers, while I was saying some words that the little girls sitting behind me have probably never heard before.

The plane was so out of control right before the landing that I was yelling at the pilot to pull up. In the back of the plane Jared Clark and Matt Fahey were holding onto each other for dear life and Corey Arbiso was as white as a ghost.

Well we survived, and will have an opportunity to get right back on the field this week against UCLA and Southern Miss. See you at the yard.

BLOG TWO (Feb. 26, 2008): BLOG 2: Texas was a very exciting trip, and was a great atmosphere for us to open up our season. We arrived at the Hyatt in Fort Worth at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday night and had about an hour to relax before we headed off to Lupton Stadium for practice. It was 38 degrees when we got off the bus, and because of the threat of rain that night, we were forced to hit in the cages.

The team was restless to say the least, in anticipation of the game the following night. In order to loosen everybody up, we planned a little prank on one of the freshman who was rooming with our Director of Baseball Operations, Todd Rodgers. Coach Serrano addressed the team and said that he had a tradition at UCI, in order to get the jitters out he wanted us to wear our uniforms to breakfast. Because this certain 6 foot 6 left-handed pitcher was not rooming with another player he was an easy target. All of us got to breakfast early that morning with camera phones in hand in order to capture this priceless moment. We might have to do a prank before every game the way we came out swinging the bats Friday night.

Saturday our game got done early and a few of my teammates and I took advantage of this time to experience Texas. We went to downtown Fort Worth and ate at a great steak house called Risky's. The food was amazing and the atmosphere was great. Downtown Fort Worth, or the "Stock Yards" as the locals call it, was full of cowboys and some good-looking cowgirls. We then went to the world's biggest Honky Tonk, called Billy Bob's. This place was amazing. This place had its own bull riding arena, concert hall, and a dance hall. We paid two dollars and got to watch some professional bull riders. Grand Funk Railroad was playing there later that night but we had to head back to the Hotel to get some rest for Sunday's game.

The trip was successful one and was capped off with a win Sunday and a total team domination of a local Steak Buffet before we boarded the plane to head back home. Tonight we play our home opener against LMU then off to Palo Alto this weekend.

BLOG ONE (Feb. 20, 2008): We played our last scrimmage of the long offseason on Tuesday, and we are more than ready to begin our journey as the `08 Titans. We have competed against each other since September and are now ready to play against a team in a different uniform.

Now in my fifth and final "January/ February," I feel this one might have been one of the most enjoyable. This group has come a long way and I have been able to see the growth and maturation of some great young ballplayers. It feels like just the other day that I stepped foot on Goodwin Field, and now, five years later, many of the youngsters are looking to me for advice. They have even branded me with a few quality nicknames such as "old school" and "grandpa."

Although I have been around a while, this year has been quite different. The team is now being led by the coaching staff that defeated us in that marathon of a game in Omaha, last summer. The coaching transition has gone really well and Coach Serrano has done a great job with the pitching staff. He has turned what outsiders saw as a weakness, into a strength. Coaches Greg Bergeron "Bergy" and Sergio Brown "Serg" have brought a real up-tempo offense to our program. They have stressed new strategies like the inside game and stealing bases. During a scrimmage last weekend, I stole my first base. Now I'm not the fastest player on this planet, but the offense Bergy runs can put a lot of pressure on a defense and forces the opponent to play at a speed that they are not accustomed too.

This coaching staff has made sure that we work hard, but they make sure we have a good time as well. Just the other day Coach Serrano nominated me as the person he wants to take a buddy picture with on picture day. He feels that since we graduated high school in the same year, it will be a perfect opportunity to bring back memories. In all seriousness, the 2008 Titans are ready to begin the season and I guarantee this team will leave everything it has on that field and will have a great time doing it.