Enjoying his chance to play everyday with New Britain Bees, Rosa playing his best baseball 11 years into pro career

Published on Saturday, 12 August 2017 23:07
Written by DAN ORENCOLE

STAFF WRITER

NEW BRITAIN - Jovan Rosa’s baseball career has been a journey well travelled. After many ups and downs, Rosa has finally found a home in the game with the New Britain Bees.

Now 29 years of age, Rosa is playing his best baseball since he entered the Cubs organization as a 19 year old.

Rosa spent four years in the Cubs organization. The first two years represented a young player with great potential. In his second season while playing for the Single-A Peoria Chiefs, Rosa was named to the All-Star team.

While the success was there on paper, something just wasn’t right with Rosa.

“I was 19 years old when I signed with the Cubs,” Rosa said. “I didn’t adjust well from going to just a game to a job.”

After starting off his professional career strong, Rosa struggled in his third and fourth seasons with the Cubs organization.

“The main thing with the Cubs is that I didn’t learn how to do my part and always worried about things I couldn’t control. I didn’t enjoy myself.”

In his final season with the Cubs organization, Rosa finished the season with a .103 batting average at Peoria.

Even though that average was a product of just 39 at bats, Rosa wasn’t showing enough for the team to keep him around.

Following the tough season, Rosa was released. He never got a call in 2011 and thought his career might be over.

“It taught me to appreciate the game because you can just lose it in the blink of an eye,” Rosa said.

However, Rosa got another chance to play the game he loved in 2012 when he joined the Frontier League. He spent three seasons in the Frontier League and bounced around, playing for the Washington Wild Things, Normal CornBelters and Traverse City Beach Bums.

In his three seasons in the Frontier League, Rosa saw success for the first time since he entered professional ball in 2007.

His production landed him an opportunity in the Atlantic League, as he was signed by the Bridgeport Bluefish in 2015. While with Bridgeport, Rosa did not see much playing time and was eventually released.

Back without a job, this time Rosa’s phone rang. It was the manager from the first place Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Stan Cliburn.

“He said I’m Stan from Southern Maryland and I need a left fielder. Have you ever played in the outfield? And I said, ‘No, I haven’t,’ and he replied, ‘Well good, because I need a left fielder.’”

Agreeing to play a position he had never played before proved to be a game changer in Rosa’s career.

“He’s a true professional, first off,” Cliburn said. “His love and passion for the game is evident every time he steps into the clubhouse.”

In December of 2015, Cliburn was hired as the manager of the New Britain Bees. He brought Rosa along with him.

“He has been loyal to me and is the best manager I’ve ever played for. He treats his players well and he’s a fair guy. I’ve got nothing but love for him,” Rosa said.

With the Bees during the 2016 season, Rosa became the third player in Atlantic League history to play in every game of a season. He has still played in every single game in Bees history. He was an Atlantic League All-Star and led the Bees’ offense in home runs with 13.

“For him to be doing what he’s doing and playing every single game in New Britain history is remarkable,” teammate James Skelton said.

Playing for the Bees has been the pinnacle of Rosa’s comeback story, as he is a fan favorite and is once again excelling on the diamond. The difference is that this time he is having fun while doing it.

“If you have an opportunity to play this game, anytime you have a uniform on, you have a chance. You gotta appreciate what you got here because people would kill to be in your shoes,” Rosa said.

A major reason for his success has been the support he has received from his family. Rosa has a son and a girlfriend. His walk-up song, “True Love” by Loaded Lux, is a reminder of how important family is to him.

“I have a very strong family. I work hard, but my family sacrifices just as much so I can do this.”

Rosa is not opposed to returning to affiliated baseball if the opportunity were to come. However, that opportunity is not a necessity for Rosa, as he has finally found peace with the game that he grew up loving.

“We all come into this game with an expiration date. The goal for you should be at the end of the day, and when your career is over, that you should be able to look back on your career and be able to smile. If that’s the case, then you did alright.”

Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or  dorencole@bristolpress.com

On Twitter: @OrencoleDan



Posted in The Bristol Press, General Sports, New Britain Bees on Saturday, 12 August 2017 23:07. Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2017 23:09.