"Straight ahead never turn round
Don’t back up, don’t back down
Full throttle wide open,
You get tired, you don’t show it."
Jason Aldean, 'That's The Only Way I Know'
The pace is already quick and unforgiving in baseball. But Anthony Giansanti had to contend with an even bigger whirlwind in 2012.
Keeping his footing, and his focus, was a challenge, through an ankle injury and a position-change, that was more experiment than a concrete decision by the Cubs.
"I was in a weird transitional period," he said Tuesday. "I was originally converting to a catcher, played some, then played third at Peoria. I played a few games at catcher, but was then moved back to the outfield. Then there was the injury...."
He hit a wall making a play on a fly ball, spraining it and heading to the DL. The road back was tedious.
"It's the waiting game. I was going to physical therapy three times a week, then could hit with the boot. After a couple of weeks, I was able to hit without it and walk without crutches."
Giansanti, 25, played in 36 games, between three levels, but mostly in the Midwest League. He hit .296, with 12 RBI, and 9 runs scored for the Peoria Chiefs.
His first full-season was in the Midwest League in 2011, when he played a career high 125 games, hit .232, knocked in 56 runs, with 103 hits, 21 of them doubles.
Despite the disappointing turn 2012 quickly took, he was able to be productive in a short time. Something that may have helped keep his confidence up. His concern isn't one of anxiousness about the upcoming season.
"It's not so much about proving myself, but getting back out there and showing them the injury didn't slow me down. I go at it hard all the time. That's my style of playing. So I have to show I can still do that."
His arm, ranked by Baseball America as the best of all outfielders in the Cubs system, didn't betray him upon returning, but he did struggle some on his feet.
"The most difficult part was getting my wind back. If I had to chase a ball down the line, I'd be huffing and puffing. But they didn't rush me back and didn't hold me back either. I took the time I needed."
Looking back on his successful 2011 campaign, it's obvious that the lessons the Florida native took from then, carried into 2012 and helped him through that trying period.
"The most important lesson I learned was to not look too far ahead and stop looking at numbers. I'd be driving myself crazy, telling myself I had to get my average up. I learned how to set more monthly or yearly goals for myself, and take one day at a time, instead of adding goals day to day. Mentally I learned more of that aspect of the game."
There was also the matter of the positional shift. Why the Cubs, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2010, felt he should be moved from the outfield, to behind the plate isn't entirely clear.
"They gave me a kind of general response. They liked my agility and quick feet. I could get rid of the ball quickly. I'm not exactly a six foot three gazelle out there[He's 5-11]."
He explained that his throw, a short motion, helped him with assists. When they switched him back to the outfield, that was also a bit sketchy, but one of those typical baseball situations that players don't control.
"I'm not sure. I didn't get much of an explanation. But a couple of guys got hurt. I was experienced in a few positions, so they knew I could do it."
Heading into spring training, the versatile player is holding tight to the lessons he took from a rough 2012 experience.
"There's a lot of question marks for me. But the more I think about it, the harder it will be for me to perform. The goal this year is to focus on what I can control. Just play hard, be healthy, work on fundamentals, and not pay attention to the stuff around me. I often didn't know what position I was going to play, and I learned to just prepare myself and give myself the opportunity to execute when it was my time to
You can follow Anthony Giansanti on Twitter @GianSanity