McBride happy to be home with Pigs
These days, Matt McBride is enjoying and cherishing the moments. His 20-plus minute drive to Coca-Cola Park from his home in Center Valley still continues to feel dreamlike. He recently was able to drive home to celebrate the first birthday of his daughter, Maggie.
“Last year during the first half of the season, it was surreal,” said the Bethlehem native and former Liberty High School standout. “When I would get back from a road trip, I would be driving home instead of going to an apartment where I am going to be for six months, but my home.
“Last year was exciting because I was back home and people came to watch me play. This year, it has died down a little. Still, it’s been awesome.”
McBride is in his second season with the IronPigs after he signed a minor league contract in December. Last year, McBride hit .242 with 10 home runs, 26 RBIs and 13 doubles at first base, catcher and right field.
Drafted as a catcher out of Lehigh University in 2006 by the Cleveland Indians. McBride has spent time in the majors, having three season with Colorado and one with Oakland.
Currently, he is on the disabled list and hitting .262 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 27 games.
At age 34 on a young club, McBride realizes and embraces a new role. He has welcomed the chance to work with budding 23-year-old catching prospect Deivy Grullon.
“I’m happy that I can still put a uniform on, and I don’t take it for granted,” he said. “I’m just trying to be useful and trying to help guys around me. It’s been fun coming to the park every day.”
“We go a lot of young guys on the team and I want to be as productive and helpful working with them. Grullon is a super-talented kid and he has been working hard. I’ve worked with him on blocking, receiving work and throwing to second.
“It been a unique year, and we have a young staff with some of your starters going up and down.”
McBride recalled the initial thoughts of a major-league affiliated team coming to the Lehigh Valley nearly 20 years ago, and how he ironically became part of it.
“When I was 10 or 12, there was always talk of a minor league team possibly coming to Bethlehem by Moravian Village,” he said. “I was really excited, but that fell through.
“It’s funny looking back on it all those years that they ended up putting a Triple-A team, and now I have a chance to play for that team. It’s sort of funny how life works. I know I have played more professional baseball than I am going to play, so I just take it day by day.”
McBride began his current utility role after he had shoulder surgery with Cleveland in 2008 and began playing the outfield and first base in a stint in the Hawaiian Winter League.
“It was mostly a bunch of A-level guys there, and that was the first time that I didn’t catch and played left field,” he said. “Going into the following year, I played pretty evenly among left (field), right, and first base.
“From throughout my career, it has been a utility role. It’s been nice because I am never bored catching fly balls, ground balls or bullpens. I’m just working to stay in a routine and getting my reps in.”
Even though he appears as a natural future coach, McBride is still leaving all of his options open.
“I’m still playing, and honestly, I don’t know what I want to do yet,” he said. “We’re still trying to find our rhythm here. Good teams have a way to jell and get in sync. We’re just trying to get better every day.
“I’m just trying to focus on every day, and let everything else take care of itself.”
For McBride, it’s just another daily chapter of a boyhood dream.