Maxx Tissenbaum was at his desk when he heard the news that he'd been traded to the Tampa Bay Rays from the San Diego Padres.
His winter job, working for a family friend's home décor shop, kept him out of touch that day. And, really, he wasn't expecting that to even happen.
Truthfully, he was shocked.
"I didn't even know I was a guy whose name was being talked about," Tissenbaum said from Port Charlotte, Florida, home of the Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training complex. "I had no inclination of that. I got a call from my mom to check my e-mail. Then I called Josh Byrnes and he said they didn't have my Canadian number to let me know. My whole world just flipped."
Ok, that wasn't easy. But when he thought about his new team, and when people began contacting him with positive words about the organization, he realized the opportunity he'd been given.
"They've produced Rookie of the Year, after Rookie of the Year, MVP's, and what I'd heard was that they were the class of baseball. It was weird and tough, but I got excited once I got over the shock."
The lefty-hitting, Toronto-born Tissenbaum played all of 2013 in the Midwest League, playing 111 games, and finished with 115 hits, 49 RBI, 43 walks, and 48 runs scored for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. After being drafted by the Padres in the 11th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, he played for the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. He hit .296 in 47 games. The full season of play he experienced in 2013 was definitely a transition.
"There were times late in the season when I was physically exhausted. In college, you're playing four or five games on the weekend, but you're getting a few days off in between. In pro ball, you don't have that luxury."
His career might have started with the Toronto Blue Jays and it would've been a great hometown story. But the Jays picked him in the 43rd round in 2009, and the time, not to mention the slot, were simply not right.
"It was an incredibly important decision for me and my family. I wasn't ready to work full-time. Even though it's baseball, it's a job. I spent a lot of time weighing it. I'd grown up watching games with my family. In the end, that late of a round wasn't going to work, and it seemed to me, that the Jays felt I still needed to develop as a player and a person. The conversation was basically them saying they thought I'd had a great high school career, and they wanted to reward me, but it would probably best serve me and them if I went to college. It would've taken a lot for me to change my mind about wanting to go to school, though."
Tissenbaum attended SUNY Stony Brook, where he went on to be named to the 2011 and 2012 All-America East Conference, and an ABCA third team All-American in 2012. In the midst of signing with the Padres, he got some advice from his parents.
"They told me to keep a journal, so that I could remember all my experiences. And then I'd be able to share it with my family years from now. So I started making notes here and there. Then my sister suggested I put it online."
'He began the blog 'Red, White, and the 3-0 Green Light', a mix of personal details about experiences and observations. At times, it reads almost like he's reporting, other times like he's working things out as he writes. He manages to express that small, profound truth throughout every entry: the minor leagues are for the working class. As he said, it's baseball, but still a job.
"At first, I didn't know what I could and couldn't say, so I was careful," he said. "I kind of figured out where I could go with things. After I started it, I got so many messages from people, so I kept going with it."
During the 2013 season, he benefited from another kind of focus: off-season work. He believes that improving his diet during the winter played a big part in last season's results.
"I wasn't in the best shape I could be in. So putting in that work really helped keep me in shape for the 2013 season."
With Spring Training games starting up, he's ready to grow in yet another way. And, again, his sister, a D-1 hockey player, had a hand in his direction. And perhaps his parents encouragement to put things to paper did as well.
"Looking back, last season was a roller coaster. She talked about mental preparation and mental training. So I've spent a lot of time reading books and also keeping a notebook. I write down ways I've failed and succeeded and things coaches tell me. It's to help me keep my confidence up and my mind in competition mode."
In terms of preparation, Tissenbaum is ready for the Rays.
You can follow him on Twitter @8_Maxx
Read his blog here: http://maxx27tissenbaum.mlblogs.com/2014/03/06/were-live/
Look for the weekly feature 'Hitting the Bull' coverng the Durham Bulls, as part of the 'Heels On The Farm' column. There will be game coverage, quotes, updates, and interviews with the Rays Triple-A team.