CHATHAM – Failure is a constant part of baseball. Players who are able to muster three hits out of every 10 at-bats are considered superstars, and because of this, baseball is a game for the mentally tough.
Chatham Angler Caden Grice exhibits that toughness every day.
Grice, a rising junior at Clemson University, had a brief stint with the Anglers in 2021, but is in his first full season with the team this summer. Through 38 games, he has experienced plenty of failure. His .223 batting average and 53-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio showcase the struggles he’s had, but his four home runs and seven doubles also prove that he has bright spots.
Chatham manager Tom Holliday has seen the ups and downs from Grice this year and recognizes that he has tools that the statistics do not show.
“He's a totally dedicated ballplayer that loves to play baseball,” Holliday said. “He’s a really good defender at first base, he's a good outfielder, he’s one of those guys that has a desire to figure this game out. The game doesn't beat him like it does other people. Sometimes it just wears on you, and he's got that ability to forget about yesterday and take care of today, which is something down the road you hope young players learn, and he's already got that.”
If you have ever attended an Anglers game and peeked in the dugout, Grice’s attitude is evident. He is constantly smiling and laughing with his teammates.
Grice approaches every game with that same attitude.
“Baseball is just a game,” Grice said. “We're here to play baseball and have fun, we're not going to come out here and start pressing and getting all nervous, there's no point in that. Just come out here, enjoy your time with the people around you and just take it easy.”
In addition to playing a smooth first base and outfield, the 6-foot-6 left-hander has added a new wrinkle to his game this summer: pitching.
Grice has pitched his whole life, but this was his first chance to do so at a level above high school. This season he’s appeared in four games, one being a start.
In that start, which came in a 1-1 tie against the Falmouth Commodores on July 29, Grice tossed four scoreless innings, struck out four and allowed just one hit and two walks. In his other three appearances, he combined for 6.2 innings, nine strikeouts and no earned runs. His season ERA is a flawless 0.00, a number he hopes to carry into his college season.
“I've always been a pitcher, I just haven't taken advantage of that full opportunity in college,” Grice said. “This year, I'm definitely going to try to do everything I can to help my team out on the mound and hitting.”
Being a two-way player gives Grice a potential advantage when the MLB Draft rolls around next year. If he pitches well at Clemson, being a two-way is certainly a possibility. But for now Holliday sees him more as a fielder with a lot of hitting potential.
“Is he a lock at anything right now?” Holliday asked. “No. Does he have that kind of potential? Yeah. Potential’s a big word in baseball, [there’s] a lot of people with potential, and I think he's one of those kids.”
A big factor in Grice having a “special future” as Holliday sees it is his can-do attitude. Coincidentally, Grice says the biggest lesson he has gotten from Holliday is to go to the field every day and work hard.
“He's a really old-school style coach and he just tells us to blackout all the other noise and all the scouting reports and all that and just go up there and hit,” Grice said. “Don't worry about this, this and this, just go up there with a clear mind and just have fun. Just hit the ball.”
Outside of just hitting the ball, Grice’s favorite part of the season has been hanging out with his teammates. Whether it’s on the beach or in the field, he likes just taking it easy and enjoying the company around him. While Grice likes to have fun, his perseverance is what Holliday sees as his key to success.
“This game will beat you up all the time,” Holliday said. “This game is notorious. He fights with the game really hard and that's good, because he refuses to give up or give in, which is important. Some guys give up. Some guys roll over and die. He's not that kind of guy – he'll fight. He's going to spend all his energy trying to figure the game out. I really like that.”