Most big-leaguers have about four months’ worth of offseason every year, a little less if their team makes the playoffs.
Not Lorenzo Bundy.
He only took a few days off before putting on a uniform again.
Not a lot of rest for this baseball lifer who played in the minor leagues and spent more than 14 seasons coaching in the minors and majors.
Bundy returned to Tucson, went to the dentist and doctor after seven months “on the road,” then suited up to manage Naranjeros de Hermosillo in the Vamos a Tucson Mexican Baseball Fiesta. Games began Thursday night at Kino Stadium.
This year’s event also features the Mexicali team that lost 1-0 to Puerto Rico in the Caribbean World Series in February, Obregon, Los Mochis, and the Cincinnati Reds Future All-Stars.
This is the final weekend of this spring training event for the Mexican Pacific League teams. They played in Las Vegas, San Luis, Mesa, Douglas, and Nogales before swinging the bats in Tucson.
Bundy, who is the Miami Marlins outfield and base running coach, is heading into his 24th season managing in the Mexican Pacific League, which is considered the majors in Mexico. He has managed Hermosillo for four years, and is in his second stint as their manager.
“I jump from one fire into another,” Bundy said in last month a phone interview as the Marlins played the final few weeks of their season. “This has been routine for me. I’m used to it. There have been a lot of sacrifices made, but this is who we are and what we do. I have a very understanding wife and a daughter who puts up with Dad.”
Bundy’s wife, Lupita, spent the entire big-league season in Miami. The Bundys’ daughter, Nicole, is a graduate student at the UA. The family was eager to reunite, especially after Lupita endured Hurricane Irma. Lupita joined the Marlins on their road trip Sept. 6, and stayed with them for more than two weeks.
“It’s affected quite a few people on the club as people live from Jupiter to Miami,” Bundy said. “In a situation like this it’s better to have your loved ones next to you than to be calling them and looking at the Weather Channel all day. The Marlins really stepped up.”
It was a busy season for the Marlins, who hosted the All-Star Game in July. Bundy took part in the home-run derby, throwing pitches to Miami first baseman Justin Bour. Bour belted 22 home runs in Round 1 and Round 2 before falling to Yankees star Aaron Judge, the ultimate winner.
“It was a blast,” Bundy said. “But he ran into Judge—he’s a beast! He (Bour) was fifth all-time in the history of the home run derby. In the old format, he would have moved on. We were a little disappointed, but had fun. ‘JB’ definitely stole the show. He got on a nice roll, took a break and (Marlins teammate Giancarlo) Stanton gave him half a doughnut and he hit a few more. I was riding his high and it made my job easier.”
Bundy’s connection to the Mexican Pacific League goes deep. He played there for six years, hitting .318 with 135 home runs and 535 RBIs. He has managed seven of the eight teams in the league. And, by the way, he met Lupita there.
“It’s a big part of my life,” Bundy said. “It’s been good to me, an import, although, some guys consider me a Mexican now.
“I am fortunate. I enjoy the challenge and sometimes I pinch myself. I do get tired, wake up tired, but it’s a challenge and I push myself. It’s a privilege to have played and now manage.”
Mexican baseball is a little different than what you see in the United States—it’s baseball and a party all in one.
“Winter ball is extra special,” he said. “The music, the skits, the mascots, the spectacular for the fan plus good baseball. The mix makes it fun to watch. As a player it keeps you going. It’s just another adjustment. I don’t think you can prepare for a game that gets faster as you move up the ladder. You are always dealing with things that are different than you are used to. Those who can adapt usually end up having a good career.
“This (event) is a jump-start for the season. We are all excited to come to Tucson to compete in these games. And to do it in Tucson at Kino, to participate in a nice facility, it’s a good time.
“I coached for the (Tucson) Sidewinders and know about this complex. To see people at the ballpark again, it’s good for Tucson. People are hungry for baseball, it’s been a big part of the city for a long time. They will see strong baseball. Hopefully, a diamond in the rough will step up and make it like Jose Cardona, who is with the Rangers’ Double-A team or a Vinny Castilla or a Jorge de la Rosa on the Diamondbacks. They can see who is going to surprise you.”