JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tyler Callihan is taking his daily cuts in the batting cage and wondering — just like everyone else — when the pitches will start back up for real.
The bulk of the minor league baseball was scheduled to have its opening day on Thursday, although the coronavirus pandemic has scrubbed the calendar clean of its non-virtual events. For players like Callihan, who is entering his second of professional baseball, that means staying in shape and getting work in daily, even if it looks quite a bit different than normal.
“It’s tough on everybody for sure. It’s hard on the baseball world because you kind of need things to go your way,” said the Providence School graduate.
“You need a field. You need a bunch of different stuff. But then again, there’s a lot of stuff you can do at home. Just keep grinding as much as you can. You can make due with what you have. Don’t be one of those kids that just sits around because then you’re just backtracking. Just try and gain 3 inches every day. You’ll find yourself a world away in a few weeks.”
Callihan, a third-round draft pick of the Reds last year, would have been embarking on his first full season of professional baseball in the minors after a short 2019 season where he hit a combined .263 in 57 games.
Now, Callihan, like so many other athletes across the board, awaits a safe return to sports, whenever that may be.
“It’s gone so many different routes, I can’t even explain it. Never thought that I’d be in this position first of all, luckily getting drafted and stuff like that,” Callihan said.
“Now after this, I was so excited for my first full season. Now here I am. You just got to make the best out of it that you can, right?”
Callihan turned in one of the best careers in Providence history, starting for five seasons and appearing on the all-city team each of those years. He was a career .390 hitter with 22 career home runs, 12 of those in his final season. Callihan holds program marks in RBI (131), hits (190) and doubles (36). He was a selection on the News4Jax All-25 team recently honoring the top high school players of the past 25 years.
His transition into pro ball went well.
Callihan played 52 games for the Greeneville Reds in the Appalachian League in advanced rookie ball, hitting .250 with five home runs and 26 RBI. He also had 10 doubles and five triples.
He was moved to Billings, another advanced rookie ball club, to help the Mustangs chase a playoff spot in the Pioneer League. Billings missed the postseason by a game to Missoula, but Callihan hit .400 over five games with a home run and seven RBI.
The biggest adjustment, he said, was getting acclimated toward the pitching he saw every at bat. In high school, there are drop-offs. In pro ball, there isn’t.
“It took a lot of adjusting but I got the hang of it toward the end of the season for sure, and I had a ton of fun,” he said.