Senjem can't wait to 'just' play baseball
Guye Senjem doesn't deny being bitter. In fact, he admits his acrimonious approach to baseball and life might have become his greatest source of energy.
In another admission, it's all he has left.
Senjem, a 1993 graduate of Kenyon-Wanamingo, turns 30 years old next month. In the past 12 months, during a time he viewed the most important in his professional baseball life, Senjem was released by two major league organizations and traded by an independent league team. He had more doors slammed in his face than a typewriter salesman at a computer convention.
Professionally, he felt like he was strapped into the periodically faulty Paul Bunyan ax ride at Mall of America and stuck upside down with no ending in sight. Personally, he matched that bottoming out feeling when his engagement was called off.
"I took a hit both ways," Senjem said. "There was a little while there where I thought about totally removing myself from everything and just starting over.
"I was really bitter at all aspects of my life. I became bitter at baseball, and that's not me. I didn't do anything for a couple of months. I didn't lift weights, I didn't hit in the cages... I didn't do anything with baseball for the first time since I was 13 years old."
Many pro ballplayers view a trip to the independent leagues as the beginning of a slow, painful baseball death. Senjem views his trip next month to Brockton, Mass., as a new beginning.
"Being able to go out and play baseball every day, doing well and helping a team win games... That's what will make me happy again," Senjem said. "It's going to give me a chance to get going and do the things I love. I can be myself. I got caught up in all the negativity and it almost consumed me."
Last spring, Senjem was set to embark on his fifth season in the Cincinnati Reds organization. At Double-A Chattanooga in 2003, Senjem hit .265 with 15 home runs (second best on team) and 61 RBIs, and was an every-day outfielder for the Lookouts.
But new management viewed him as an aging liability and wanted to put him on the inactive list. Senjem asked for his travel check and was granted his release. "I got tired of running into a cement wall," he said.
A couple of days later, he signed with the Colorado Rockies organization and joined their Double-A affiliate in Tulsa, Okla. He played sparingly, sometimes once a week. In July, he asked Tulsa management about their plans for him. "I asked if they thought things would change for me and they said it didn't look like it," Senjem said.
After his release from Colorado, he signed with the St. Paul Saints, where his professional baseball career started in 1997. He hit .254 with four homers in 37 games last summer.
"Things ended up bad there, too," he said. "I would've been really surprised if they would've kept me around this year."
The Saints dealt Senjem's rights to Brockton in the independent Can-Am League. He won't verbally concede a major league baseball career is unreachable, but he has shifted his goals. He hopes to parlay the gig at Brockton into a career playing pro baseball in Mexico, or even in Taiwan.
"The money's really good over there," Senjem said. "When they import people they basically want guys who can hit home runs."
Senjem hopes the lessons learned from the past will help him reach his goals.
"I'm a much stronger person now," Senjem said. "There's not much more you can do to me. I was really close to my goals in a couple of things and for whatever reason it didn't work out. I'm at the same point where a lot of people decide to move on. I'm not there yet. Not even close. I probably have a hotter fire now more than ever."
But he refuses to set deadlines for himself. No need to put unneeded pressure on himself. That's one lesson he learned from his most turbulent offseason.
"I got caught up in that stuff last year," Senjem said. "I've gotten back to the basics, just worrying about what I do and how to go about it.
"When it's time to quit, I'll know."
Troy Young is a sports writer for the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org