As February rolls around, most players use the first couple of weeks as their last chance to relax before heading to Spring Training and starting up the marathon of another baseball season. For Nick Greenwood, it’s actually his first chance to catch his breath.

“I got married, honeymooned, and then straight to the Dominican,” explained Greenwood, who spent six weeks pitching for Aguilas Cibaenas.

Greenwood actually committed to play on the team earlier on the same day he was promoted to the St. Louis Cardinals. A man of his word, he honored his commitment to play even with his extended season in the big leagues.

“My thought was I was just going to get a couple of innings, but I ended up actually starting five games down there,” said Greenwood. “I got the innings I need, I got built up to where I want to be in Spring Training because if I do the same job I did last year, I gotta be able to go multiple innings and that’s what kind of happened down there. So far, my arm feels good and ready to go.”

And that role of long relief, spot start, facing one batter–Greenwood doesn’t mind what kind of role he fills.

“I’m ready to go, ready to compete in Spring Training do the best ability I can and control what I can control. At the end of Spring Training, wherever I end up as long as I can look at myself and tell myself I did everything I could do to have success, then I’m happy with that.”

The 27-year old lefty appeared in 19 games for the Cardinals last season–starting one of them. He pitched 36 innings and allowed 36 hits with 19 earned runs, 17 strikeouts, and five walks.

Besides building up his arm, Greenwood has also begun working on a new pitch, or rather a new delivery, for his arsenal.

“I have a tendency at times, like a lefty is hitting, I’ll drop down sidearm and throw a fastball,” shared Greenwood. “I want to work on a breaking ball down there, just because I don’t want it to get out to the scouting report every time he drops down it’s going to be a fastball. It’s not where I want it to be right now, but it’s something I was able to work on. In Spring Training, we’ll work on it and hopefully make it game ready.”

Greenwood pitched around 15 innings for the Aguilas–which also featured teammate Carlos Martinez and was the team Oscar Taveras had played for.

“You don’t want to really get into too many specifics because it’s just a tough subject down there,” said Greenwood. “You can see what he meant down there–people remember him and the team did a great job to remember him. That’s impact he had at such a young age. It’s upsetting to see that’s going to be lost now.”

“You got kind of the bigger name guys like Carlos (Martinez), Oscar, and Robinson Can0–guys that have made it to the big leagues and have a prominent future. Everyone look up to them. All the young kids, it’s baseball day-in and day-out. You can tell that a lot of these young kids look up to them. It’s tough to see what happened, but it’s also a good thing because they were able to rally around. The memorials down there, how many lives he touched–it’s truly amazing when you see it in person.”

Overall, Greenwood enjoyed his winter ball experience in the Dominican–even seeing some comparisons to his big league home.

“They’re all into the game–it’s kind of like a whole city thing, same thing like St. Louis,” he said. “Everyone buys into the concept. It’s the same thing down there, the city I was in, everybody loves Agula baseball just like here, everyone loves St. Louis baseball. To see the resemblance like that was pretty cool.”

photo credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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