By Roy Reiss
February 10, 2015
We may be buried in snow here in Cotuit but many former Kettleers are now getting ready for Spring Training and the long grind ahead of the baseball season. They’re putting the finishing touches on their off-season preparations and eagerly anticipate their departure to training sites in Florida and Arizona.
Over the years Cotuit and Lowell Park have seen many electrifying players in the Kettleers uniform. One such example would be Tony “TK” Kemp (2012 Vanderbilt) who simply lit up the baseball diamond with his smile, exciting style, and scintillating speed. He played the game with a joie de vivre that was contagious to his teammates and the many Kettleers followers.
We had the opportunity recently to catch up with Tony as he was packing and getting ready for spring training.
Tony, as you get set for Spring Training, what have you been personally working on during the off season?
Mainly getting myself prepared for 140 plus games of baseball this season. I’m trying to put on good weight because I know once the games keep rolling in, the pounds start falling off. So making sure that my body is in top performance for the season is the main thing I’m working on with what I eat, how I train, and putting in the work that it takes. Other than my body, I’m working on having a stronger arm, fine-tuning my swing, and having a quicker first step for stealing bases.
What are your expectations or goals for 2015?
For 2015, I don’t want to change anything. I just want to be focused on taking one game at a time and enjoying the process it takes to get to the next level. Many people get caught up in statistical goals and sometimes when they aren’t being reached that pressures themselves into trying to perform outside of their means and I just want to keep everything as simple as possible, smile, and have fun with the game like I have done since I was 4 years old.
Have the Houston Astros said anything to you about what they’re looking for this season?
Usually during Spring Training they will sit players down in a meeting and tell them what they expect from them in the upcoming year. So as of right now I do not know what their plans for me are but I am excited to get back on the baseball field with my teammates.
It’s been several years but what are some of your memories of your time in Cotuit?
Cotuit will always have a special place in my heart because it is the people that make the experience so great and unique. Some of my favorite memories include having one of the best records ever while being there and having Coach Roberts. He taught me many different aspects of the game that I had not yet thought of and he made me a better player. Having him as a coach and mentor helped better my game tremendously. He showed me the 2-hand finished swing, how to pick up signs from the pitcher’s glove, and defensively how to “hang the glove” in order to create less room for error when fielding ground balls. If I could see him right now I would give him a HUGE hug for making me a better baseball player.
What’s the one thing that stands out in your mind about your time in Cotuit?
This one is too easy. The Green Family. I might be biased, but they simply are the best host family at Cotuit. From the first day we all met, I felt like family and there never was a dull moment. Michele, Don, Riley, Jack, and the dog Millie. I still constantly keep up with them and see how they are doing. Jack recently just broke his wrist-playing hockey and I congratulated him because that means he is playing the sport hard. I honestly feel a part of their family. They even came down to Nashville during my junior season at Vanderbilt and watched the series against Mississippi State. I cannot thank them enough for how well they treated me up in the Cape and I cannot wait to see them all again.
Do you stay in touch with any of your former Kettleers teammates? And do you follow the Kettleers?
Jacob Valdez, Aramis Garcia, Kyle Finnegan, Patrick Biondi, Raph Rymes, Jacob May, Angel Rosa, Kevin Ziomek, Dusty Issacs, Cael Brockmeyer. I keep up with those guys and we stay in touch. They will forever be my friends throughout my life. Yes! I do keep up with the Kettleers because Vanderbilt sends their players up that way still so I keep up with how the team is doing.
What would be your advice to any member of this year’s Kettleers?
Have Fun. Don’t worry about who is in the stands and just play the game of baseball you have always played. Do not change anything because it is still the same game. Many scouts may be there, but pay them no attention and invest yourself within the team and the fans and the experience will be one you will never forget.
Catching up on a few notes of interest from the past and future … Congratulations to 2013 intern from Michigan State, Connor Sullivan, who will be working full time starting this summer as the video coordinator for the Lowell Spinners … That bond of being house parents to a player is something that grows over the years. A classic example, just this past November house parents Karen and David Skarbek of Centerville had the thrill of attending Chris Beck’s (2011 Georgia Southern) wedding … And congratulations to Josh Lindblom (2007 Purdue) and his wife Aurielle on the birth of their 2nd child, William Palmer … One of the interesting take aways from the 2015 roster posted on the Kettleers website is that 3 of the projected players attend college in New England.
Kettleers Korner will be anything and everything that might interest fans, past and present, about the Kettleers. Roy Reiss, who started his career working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting, was a former sportscaster on Channel 7 and several radio stations in Boston. His son Mike now covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.