Bishop's Minor League Ambition
- Published on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 20:36
- Written by Melissa Couto
Within the next few weeks, he might be playing for a Boston Red Sox minor league team.
Amidst a backdrop of the impressive, newly built JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla., the New Zealand-born softball star is continuing his transition to baseball at his second spring training appearance.
Having been here before, Bishop feels like he's getting the hang of things.
"I definitely feel more comfortable this time around," the Maori catcher said after a training exercise at JetBlue's minor league complex Tuesday. "I know the game a lot more now after having actually played it."
For Bishop, who signed with the Red Sox last February, switching from softball to baseball has presented some challenges.
"Baseball is so much more serious than softball," he said. "You have to put everything into it. There's a huge difference."
So far, Bishop has demonstrated his willingness to play the game.
"He's been working really hard," fellow Red Sox prospect, Boss Moanaroa, said. "You can definitely see progression from last season."
Bishop's improving baseball abilities have much to do with the time he spent at the Major League Baseball Australian Academy Program (MLBAAP) following spring training in Fort Myers last season.
"My experience in Australia was pretty much similar to [spring training] here. It is just as strict," the Wellington native said.
"Going there was the best decision for me," Bishop continued. "There, I got a lot of game time playing almost everyday. If I had stayed here, I wouldn't have gotten that chance."
Bishop batted .288 in the MLBAAP last year, recording 38 hits and 16 runs in 132 at bats.
Another reason for Bishop's apparent progress in baseball might have to do with the company he keeps. Moanaroa, an Australian native with Maori parents, befriended the young New Zealander at last year's spring training camp and is rooming with him this year.
"Boss is a good friend and a great person," Bishop said. "Knowing that we pretty much come from the same place, I feel more comfortable around him than I would if I was rooming with someone random."
Aside from making Bishop feel more comfortable, Moanaroa has also provided his Maori teammate with sound guidance.
"We talk about baseball all the time," Moanaroa said. "I give him advice - stay with it, listen, and take in as much information from the coaches as you can so you can be a better player mentally and physically.
"He needs a lot of work because he's so new to the sport, but he knows he has to work hard, especially since there are so many people here who want his spot."
Growing up in New Zealand, Bishop was not granted the same opportunities in baseball as his American counterparts.
"Baseball was always kind of a fantasy," the Red Sox prospect said. "We would see it on TV and think 'if only that was in New Zealand.'"
The fulfillment of Bishop's fantasy will continue in Fort Myers for the rest of the month, but he hopes it will lead to a spot on a Red Sox minor league team for the upcoming season.
Melissa Couto is a budding sports writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @throwinsmoke
This story was not subject to the approval of Baseball New Zealand or its affiliates.