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Oak Harbor High School graduate Yale Rosen gets professional baseball opportunity
Each spring evening, the Little League baseball fields at Windjammer Park are filled with youngsters running around the diamonds in replica Major League Baseball uniforms.
Most likely, those with Red Sox or Yankees or Dodgers printed across their jerseys dream of someday playing in Fenway Park, the Bronx or Chavez Ravine.
A decade ago, Yale Rosen was one of those tykes. A month ago, Rosen began his professional baseball career.
The 2011 Oak Harbor graduate was drafted this spring in the 11th round by the San Diego Padres out of Washington State University.
Rosen plays for the Padres’ short-season “A” team, the Eugene Emeralds in Oregon. The best opportunity for local fans to see Rosen is Aug. 19-23 when Eugene visits Everett for a five-game series. Games begin a 7:05 p.m.
“Professional baseball is exactly what I had expected it to be,” Rosen said. “Long days at the field, late nights searching for places that are open for food after your games, long bus rides and great competition every day.”
The main difference between professional and school ball, Rosen said, is that it is now “treated more like a job.”
In high school and college, class took up the majority of the day. Now, “you spend eight to 10 hours a day on the field,” Rosen said. “You’re solely focusing on the game that day.”
Another difference, Rosen said, is the schedule. In high school, teams play 20 games over several months. In college, most of the 56 games are played during weekends. The Emeralds, however, will play 75 games in 78 days.
“Playing every day is great,” Rosen said. “You can get yourself into a routine that works for you to get prepared for the game both physically and mentally. I would be lying to you if I said that the bus rides were pleasant. Bussing through the night and having a quick turn around can be difficult on the body, but the guys find ways to adapt and make the best out of our situation.”
Winning at every level is important, Rosen noted, but at the professional level, “there are no coaches down our throats telling us what we did wrong.
“Baseball is a tough sport and nothing goes perfectly, so after a loss you evaluate personally what you could have done better and work on that the very next day.”
The professional game is different in some ways, Rosen said; however, “the game of baseball is the same at every level: mound is the same distance, base paths are the same distance and, for the most part, fields are the same size.”
Rosen said there is a perception that the game speeds up as you move up the ladder, but, in reality, “it is your mind tricking you into believing that the game is more complicated.”
The key to success, he said, is to slow the game down in your head and “just get out there and play the game that most of us have been playing since we were little kids.”
Along with baseball, he is enjoying making new friends. His teammates hail from across the United States and several other countries. “I get to make … connections from all over the world that at one point I would have never dreamed of coming out of a small town like Oak Harbor.”
He has called his performance, so far, “solid.”
Through last Sunday, Rosen had appeared in 27 of the Emeralds’ 37 games, hitting .222 (20-for-90). He is second on the team in doubles (7) and walks (12) and fourth in RBI (12).
“With baseball, everybody is so fascinated with statistics, but in reality, stats do not show progress,” Rosen said.
“Baseball is one of those sports that you can do everything perfectly but still fail.
“I try not to focus on how I am doing statistically and focus more on the process and my work ethic every day because I am a firm believer that if the process is good, results will follow.”
Rosen said he comes to the field each day to work and is able to focus solely on each aspect of his game. He also understands that you can’t “take an at-bat out to the field with you because, if you do, your focus will not be on the task at hand, rather, it is something out of your control and in the past.”
One thing from his past he could control was his development as a ball player — from Oak Harbor City Beach, to the OHHS field, to the Palouse, to Eugene. Someday, that work ethic could lead him to Petco Park in downtown San Diego.