With less than a week left in the Arizona Fall League, “Tale of the Tigers” sat down with 2011 and 2012 Athletic Trainer T.J. Obergefell, who spent the AFL season with the Mesa Solar Sox. T.J. spoke about his daily duties and what it’s like dealing with the top prospects in baseball.
TOTT: How did you get this job?
TJ: The organization puts out a voicemail every year. I threw my name out there very late. My boss left his position and the trainer that was originally scheduled to come out here filled the position the vacant position in our organization. My name came up and I was happy to do it.
TOTT: With less than a week left, what has the experience been like?
TJ: The talent out here is very good. All number one prospects, guys knocking on the door of the big leagues. From a training standpoint, it’s been easier. If a player gets hurt, the organization he comes from is supposed to replace him. We’ll just ship the player out. No rehab is done on site. We have players from five different organizations: the Tigers, Orioles, Dodgers, Cubs and Astros. The other trainer (with the Solar Sox) is from the Orioles. Each trainer deals with his own guys and the Cubs and Dodgers have facilities nearby so the only organization we have to coordinate with is the Astros.
TOTT: What are your daily duties?
TJ: We get here early before the games because players do a pre-game lift and deal with the nagging injuries in order to try and keep them on the field. There are no strength and conditioning coaches so we lead the team stretch and because there are two of us, we can give the players a little more attention.
TOTT: What has it been like working with (the Tigers’ number one prospect) Nick Castellanos?
TJ: Nick is very good. He’s matured a lot the last couple of years. He wants to get better and this is where he needs to be.
TOTT: The Tigers were nice enough to bring in many of their minor league employees to Detroit for the World Series. How awesome was that experience?
TJ: Every time we make it to the World Series, every full-time staff member gets tickets to the home games and their travel covered. The whole experience was bittersweet. Losing the way we did definitely hurt. You feel like a fan but you way more invested because you know all the guys on the team personally.
TOTT: Are you excited to get back to Lakeland following the AFL season?