PALMYRA -- What’s batting practice like for Melvin Dorta these days?
He’s now the one giving pointers.
After a long career playing professional baseball, including parts of four seasons with the Harrisburg Senators, Dorta is now the lead instructor at the B2B Baseball & Softball Academy at In the Net in Lebanon County.
He works with a lot of kids, including his own two boys; but not being in uniform on an Opening Day for the first time since 2001, is hard for him to comprehend. Dorta suited up last season in the Atlantic League.
"Even when you play 10-12 years,” said Dorta, a native of Valencia, Carabobo, Valenzeula, who made his major league debut for the Nationals in 2006. "Opening day is still a nervous day (when you’re a player)."
That type of feeling from past opening days is still fresh in the minds of hundreds of other professional ballplayers now out of baseball.
It's a difficult transition, going from player...to something else. No wonder so many former players try to stay as close to the game as possible.
“The hardest part of getting into coaching was realizing (that) I was done playing,” said Matt LeCroy, the first-year manager of the Harrisburg Senators.
LeCroy considers himself one of the lucky ones.
Three years ago, the former big league catcher/designated hitter when straight from playing – for the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League, ironically – to managing in the Nationals’ farm system.
“But after my first season as a manager, it kind of changed,” said LeCroy, who twice 17 home runs in a season for the Minnesota Twins. "Because I saw the impact you can make possibly on guys to become big leaguers.
“That fuels my fire now.”
Dorta still has a burning desire to play, since he’s only 30-years-old; but now his top priority is his family. He certainly doesn't miss the travel involved with being a professional player and how it takes away from spending time with his children.
After seeing his five-year-old do a leaping Derek Jeter impression, can you blame him?
“To be able to come to this facility and be an instructor and be a Dad; to help (my kids) get better every day (is great),” he said. “Now I'm going to have time to coach.”