Tim Burcham, it wouldn't come soon enough.
"Always about this time you get a little anxious," Burcham told The San Francisco Chronicle. "It gets long and monotonous and you want it to count. I'd like it (spring training) to be 2-3 weeks, then get going."
Burcham had been in springs before. But not like this one. Burcham was nearing the end, having just been named the Giants' opening day starter. But he never got that start. This was spring 1995 and Burcham was a replacement player.
He also never made the majors.
Burcham's career began, taken in the sixth round of the 1985 draft by the Angels, out of the University of Virginia.
The Angels selected Burcham after a season at Virginia that saw him go 11-2 with a 1.83 ERA by late May, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
"(Burcham) kept us off balance all day. He has a great curveball," University of Florida first baseman Mike Stanley told The Sun-Sentinel. "He had us looking for the curveball, then he'd slip the fastball past us. We knew he was a good pitcher, and he proved it."
With the Angels, Burcham started at short-season Salem. He went 8-4 with a 2.96 ERA. He hit single-A Quad City in 1986 and then single-A Palm Springs in 1987. At Palm Springs, Burcham went 17-6 with a 3.11 ERA.
He hit AA Midland in 1988, then got a one-game look at AAA Edmonton in 1989. It was Edmonton full time for 1990 and 1991. In spring 1991, Burcham had been in the minors for six seasons. He'd also spent one season one step away from the majors.
Speaking to his hometown Newport News Daily Press, Burcham said he expecting to head back to Edmonton that season. There were too many pitchers ahead of him.
"It gets a little frustrating sometimes,'' Burcham told The Daily News. "I see a lot of these guys who I played with and against, and they're in the big leagues. All I want is a chance to see whether or not I can do it."
Burcham finished out 1991, playing the year at Edmonton. He went 7-7, with a 4.98 ERA. He returned to the Angels system for 1993, splitting time between Palm Springs and Edmonton. For 1994, it was Mexico.
By spring 1995, Burcham was taking classes at Arizona State when the Giants came calling, according to The San Francisco Examiner. The strike over, Burcham played five games at AAA for the Giants at Phoenix. He also spent time in 1996 at independent Palm Springs in the Western League.
"I'm a professional baseball player," Burcham told The Examiner that spring in 1995. "It's what I do. I've done it for 11 years. I don't think this is wrong. If someone says it is, maybe they're the ones that are selfish. I'm doing this for myself and my family. Maybe I'll catch a break."
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, May 25, 1985: Virginia Shocks Florida 14-1 In Regional
- Newport News Daily Press, Feb. 25, 1991: Pro Focus: Ex-Warrior Wants To Be Angel
- San Francisco Examiner, March 3, 1995: Long road for Giants' starter
- San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 1995: Opening-Day Pitcher: I'm Almost Ready