"That’s always been my dream and I think when I was 13-years-old I didn’t think there was a chance I couldn’t be a baseball player," Weiland said.
In fact, the 24-year-old right-hander recently found a sheet he filled out in first grade which stated unequivocally that he would be a professional baseball player at some point. That said, it did not come without work — a wish and a dream is not enough.
Weiland was wise to do things the right way. Knowing he had the arm to possibly succeed as a pitcher, he made sure to avoid the pitfalls that can derail even more talented individuals.
"Hard work goes a long way. It takes constant hard work and concentration and you can’t relax on anything in terms of mechanics," he said. "As a pitcher, every time you pick up a ball, throw it with the best mechanics you can and hold off with the curveball for awhile because there’s only so many bullets in your arm. Don’t waste any of them."
And if it all falls apart? That’s where another piece of advice comes into play, one that has stood the test of time.
"Keep your grades up because baseball’s not always going to be there," said Weiland, who was 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A Pawtucket before getting his promotion. "There’s always a life after baseball, even for major league baseball players, so keep the grades up so you have something to fall back onto."
That’s good advice to those looking to take the same path as Weiland. And good advice is something that can be in short supply for many young athletes.
Weiland’s sister excelled at swimming when they were young and his parents eventually threw him into the pool as well. Although he found some success, it wasn’t for him. That’s where another time-honored piece of advice — do what you love — comes into play.
"I ended up being pretty good at that age, I just didn’t enjoy it,” he said of swimming. "Wasn’t nearly the reward for all the work you put into it. One of those sports that takes constant work, conditioning, at the pool for hours for those four events every two or three weeks. That wasn’t my sport."
"A lot of people thought I would make it a lot further in swimming. I didn’t care. I was playing baseball. I had fun doing that."
Seeing Weiland on the mound at Fenway on July 10 was proof positive that following one’s heart can turn into something special.
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