Renfree moving on after chasing dream
Editor’s note: Matt Renfree is a graduate of Placer High who played college baseball and pitched in the minor leagues. Over the course of an evening, he recalled his experiences at the high school level, the college level, and the professional level. This is the second of a two-part series on his exploits. To check out Part I, visit AuburnJournal.com.
Matt Renfree’s second year, 2008, in the Seattle Mariners’ minor league organization saw him start the season at Everett, Wash. in short-season Low A league.
“I pitched really well there,” Renfree said. “I had a low ERA.”
Then, with eight games to go in the Triple-A season, Renfree was brought up to the Tacoma, Wash. club. This is the final step before being brought up to the majors. He appeared in two of the eight games as a reliever. Renfree felt he did fine.
In only his second season in the Mariners’ organization, Renfree was only one call away from a major league career. Many players in minor league organizations take years to climb up the baseball ladder to make it to the Triple-A level. Although a short appearance, Renfree had done it in just two years. His career looked promising.
Starting the 2009 season at spring training for the Mariners, Renfree’s seemed to be beginning right where he had left off at the end of the 2008 season. When spring training broke, as the Mariners began their major league season, Renfree was assigned to Jackson, Tenn., at the AA level, where he felt he put up good numbers.
After one month in Tennessee, he was reassigned to Clinton, Iowa in the long-season Low-A League. The move to Clinton was not a good sign for him. For the first time in his career, he had moved down the baseball ladder instead of up.
Over the course of our talk, I sensed no bitterness in Renfree. I have known him since his days as a freshman at Placer High. While he has matured as a man and battled his way through professional baseball, he is still a remarkably positive and upbeat person.
It would be easy to blame others or the system for failure to make it to the Major League but that is simply not Renfree’s style. Instead, he chose to dwell on the many positives he experienced playing in the Mariners’ organization. For example, this coming season, the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers will be coming to Reno, Nev. to play the Reno Aces. Renfree is excited to see many of his friends who are still on the team.
Renfree’s final year in the organization began, once again, at spring training. With only four days left in spring training, he was released.
“I was disposable,” he said. “There were other pitchers in the organization with my ability that made more money, so they felt they had more invested in them. There was no way with such short notice I would get picked up by another team.”
“I was 25 years old when I was released,” he added. “At the age of 25-26, those are the make-or-break years. If you aren’t showing real progress, you are not part of the team’s future.”
This summer, Renfree is taking three classes at the University of Nevada. The summer session will come to a close on Aug. 12, and on that date, Renfree will become a graduate of UNR.
While many in his situation might harbor ill feelings, Renfree has moved on with his life. Obtaining his degree was on the top of his list.
Renfree has, in a remarkably short period of time, earned two degrees. First, he will earn his degree at his beloved UNR. Secondly, he has earned a degree in life.
Chase your dream… give it all you have… but be prepared to move on. Looking back and carrying negative baggage does no good. Instead, look ahead for all that life offers in the future.