My TestimonyUnchanged from when I first wrote it in 2002 this is my testimony, my story of how and why I became a Christian, it’s not perfect, but it’s honest.Jesus Christ Was In The Minor LeaguesMay 28, 2002New Orleans, LAI know a lot of you have been wondering what has happened to me and this web page. I have taken quite a hiatus from updating and e-mail. The truth is I probably won't be adding any more baseball content to the page, in baseball terms, updating of the web page is out indefinitely. I must apologize for the lack of responding I have done with e-mail as well. Because AOL only allows e-mail to stay in your incoming box for around3 weeks I have lost a lot of e-mail that has been sent to me going back to around March 20th or so. I will do my best to get to the e-mail I still have but I cannot make any promises. I don't have an address for autographs because I am not sure of where I'll be in the near future. I do not want to give an address and not be there anymore.So what exactly has been going on with me? My life has had some dramatic changes over the past 2 months and I can proudly say for the better. Based on the title of this letter I am sure you can see where this is going and I hope you will continue to read on. This is probably going to get long.On March 25th I was released by the Astros out of spring training. Although I knew it was coming, it was a pretty strong moment of frustration for me in my career. I felt too good for this to happen, I felt strong and was in the best shape of my career. I worked incredibly hard over the winter and I couldn't believe it came down to this. I had such an inconsistent spring that I did not make that team even though basically by the middle of spring training I was only competing against myself for the left handed spot in the bullpen.When I got home to the house I was renting in Kissimmee, FL I was frustrated, mad, and suddenly scrambling to find a job for the 2002 season. What happened that afternoon, without getting into to too much detail was a moment when God came crashing into my life like a ton of bricks. I was eating lunch in the living room watching TV when I heard an awkward sound, almost like water running. I had assumed it was my 2-year-old son playing in the sink, in Florida he always liked to wash his hands in the kitchen. After about 20 seconds I heard it again in the distant background and I realized that it wasn't the sink, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. A few seconds later I looked up and noticed that the sliding glass door going out to the pool was open and I quickly realized the sound I was hearing was the filter running. It was an awkward sound to me because that door was always locked and never left open. I jumped up and raced out to the pool deck, my son was nowhere to be found. I looked into the middle of the pool and there he was completely submerged in water. He is 2 years old and does not know how to swim. I jumped into the water and pulled him out. He was disturbingly quiet at first but after a few seconds we realized he was OK. At 2 years old another 30 seconds or so and I would have lost my son.As eerie as that was, here is what shakes me even more. I was the furthest person from the pool in the house at the time. I by far have the worst hearing of the 3 adults that were in the house; I played drums as a kid and never wore earplugs. But, miraculously I was the only one in the house who heard the filter running. On top of that if I did not get released on that day, I would have been at the ballpark with the team, they had a 1:05 game at home that day, this took place around 2:00. We were in that house for about 40 days prior to that incident, and this is the day my son figures out how to open the sliding glass door?I barely slept that night and had a lot of emotions running through me. I was really trying to figure out what was the message here. At first I thought God had had enough, He was tired of me putting so much emphasis on baseball and making money and letting it control my life. I felt like He was slapping me in the face and reminding me what was really important and how He could take that away from me at any moment. As I look back now and see what has happened to my life I realize what that day was all about. God wasn't mad at me, He wasn't almost punishing me. What happened was Jesus Christ came to me, put His arm around me and said, "Let's take a walk." My walk with Christ has been nothing short of amazing. I grew up Catholic, 8 years of grade school and 4 years of high school. After I signed in 1994 I found my self slowly drifting away from the Catholic Church. In professional baseball there is an organization called Baseball Chapel. Their purpose is to have a chaplain in every city from rookie ball to the big leagues to come preach to players, if they choose, on Sundays. It is a huge help with our schedule. I attended when I could and found myself more inspired and fulfilled by 20 minutes of baseball chapel then 50 minutes of Catholic mass. Even though I attended Catholic Church at home in the off-season I really felt like I was just more of a Christian than a Catholic. I understood that Jesus Christ came to this Earth to die for my sins, so that they could be forgiven, and the gates of heaven opened. I thought I got it. I thought I was a good Christian. The way I was living my life was proving otherwise. God's work is amazing and it cannot be ignored. The fact that I ended up back in New Orleans at AAA for the Astros is an event that I am still to this day amazed by. Not that I didn't think there was a chance I'd be in AAA, but the fact that it would be in New Orleans.This winter my decision of where I was going to sign came down to two choices for me, the New York Mets or the Houston Astros. I am a native New Yorker and had the privilege to play with the Mets for the final month of the 2001 season. I have wanted to play in New York since I was about 8 years old and even as I reached the major leagues as an adult I still wanted to play in New York. The Mets experience for me in 2001 can only be described as perfect. It was an ideal situation, great organization, a winning team, great players that played the game hard. This is what I have wanted all my life. I was in a limited role there but performed well, I knew that this was my atmosphere, that this was where I wanted to be and where I had my greatest chance to succeed.. So when the opportunity came to go back there in 2002 you think it would have been a no-brainer. This was back when I thought I controlled my own destiny, I am smarter than that now.The Mets offer was a better one then Houston's. It was a 40-man roster spot, major league contract with about twice as much guaranteed money as Houston was offering in their minor league contract. Let me emphasize this again, the Mets offered me a major league contract, more guaranteed money, I loved playing there, I always wanted to play in New York my family & friends are there and I signed the MINOR LEAGUE deal with the Astros. Some may say that was just a dumb move, I didn't realize I was being guided by someone else than me. Luckily since Christ has entered me life I have been able to look back and understand why it happened as opposed to regretting my decision.So now I am on a minor league deal with the Astros, the risk of going to the minor leagues is alive and well. My contract was structured so that if I did not make the Astros major league team I would be released if I chose to do so. I felt good about my chances of making the team but just in case I did not, I already decided that I would not go to back to New Orleans, if I cannot be in the majors in 2002 I am going to play AAA baseball somewhere else. I already played in New Orleans all of 1997 and I just thought I would feel like I was going backwards, if I have to I will go somewhere else. I told all my friends and family this. The only thing I was sure of this winter is that in 2002 I would not be playing baseball in New Orleans. I would havebet anyone a million dollars of that and I would have lost.Well, sure enough, when it came time to sign a minor league deal with someone in late March after my release, all signs pointed to going back to New Orleans. I couldn't believe it, but I was on my way.We had 2 exhibition games before the season, the first at Round Rock, TX versus the Astros AA team. I was sitting in the bullpen there talking to Pete Munro. Pete is one of our starting pitchers who has played with the Toronto Blue Jays in the big leagues. Pete is a native New Yorker as well, born and raised in Queens, NY, right by St. John's where I went to college. I always felt a connection talking with guys from New York, it's just one of things, people from the same area can generally get along well. For some strange reason I really didn't talk to Pete that much in big league camp, he was there, but we just didn't talk much. Now Pete is straight New York, accent an all. Where I grew up we didn't talk about religion or God muchexcept in times of tragedy, typical. So you can imagine my surprise when out ofnowhere in that bullpen in Round Rock, TX Pete says to me, "Yo bro, where you atwith you at with your faith?"I was thinking to myself what? This guy? No way. Christianity is for southerners, Bible belters, those kinds of people, not 26 year old baseball players from Queens, NY. Well sure enough, Pete was a born again Christian and I began to tell him the story of my son and how I felt God was trying to work in my life and I was still putting it all together.Pete has been a huge help to me. He also grew up Catholic so he could answer a lot of my questions. Before he met his wife Samantha, who brought him to Christ, Pete was like a lot of athletes in their mid-twenties, just living what a professional athlete would consider the "good life", having a good time. He has been ministering to me and continues to do so and has helped me to strengthen my faith.I cannot go into every detail of what we talk about, there just isn't the time. But there is one thing that he said to me in that bullpen in Round Rock, TX that has stuck me and will stick with me for the rest of my life. I have never done drugs and in recent years had drank very casually. We were talking about vices each of us had and I told him the only thing I really do during the season is go to strip clubs. I don't go to regular bars, I am not out to meet women and I would never cheat on my wife. If I go out on the road 9 times out of 10 it would be to a strip club. I just like to go there with a couple of the guys, have a few drinks, smoke a cigar and go home by myself. No big deal. My wife knew I went most of the time and although she wasn't in love with the idea she knew she could trust me. I told Pete this and he said to me, "Sure your wife might not mind bro, but she's not the One you have to answer too." Man, that hit me hard and I suddenly realized I have been living my life to please the wrong people. My heart was so receptive to the Lord and it was instantly getting filled with a lot of information.As things developed I still didn't understand why Christians would try not to listen to rock music, or watch R rated movies or do other things that didn't seem to be that big of a deal to me. If you ask the right people or look hard enough, Scripture will answer your questions. One verse that has really been sticking with me and answering a lot of these questions is 1Corinthians 10:31 "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." That "whatever" covers quite a lot. I by no means have this defeated, it is a battle everyday. I am going to face a strong test of glorifying God when the 3rd season of the Sopranos starts up on HBO. Pray for me. I say that half jokingly, but it's true. We will always be sinners and the battle goes on everyday.Two months into the baseball season and I can blatantly see the difference God has made in my life both on and off the field. Not a time goes by that I don't take the mound and ask Him to help me do His will in the game, take the ability He has given me and use it to glorify Him and to be a shinning example of a Christian Athlete for Him. Not an easy thing to do. When Christ enters your life you are not suddenly freed from sin and temptation, you never will be. But, God will never let you be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. If someone tells you they just can't help but do something they are tempted by, they are wrong. He has kept me in control. I used to curse on the mound and loud. I would use the Lord's name in vein as loud as I could sometimes when things didn't go my way. He has taken that away from me, I think, so far, so good.. I have come really close and have had half-slips of the tongue but I have been able to control my mouth and my emotions when I take the hill. It's because I want to be out there glorifying Him, not myself. I have strong regret at the thought of every time I was a bad example to others on the mound by losing my cool and shouting obscenities as I made my way back to the dugout. Nowadays Ihear someone use God's name in vein and it just cuts right through me, it makes me cringe. Now that I am no longer a wavering Christian athlete, there are a lot of things from my past I regret.If this was 3 months ago and I was in AAA I would have been frustrated beyond belief right now that I wasn't in the big leagues. I feel good, I am ready to go back to big leagues, I am throwing the ball well and yet here I sit in AAA. My contract is situated so that I can go to any other team that wants me at anytime and here I am in AAA. You always hear the talk about the need for left handed pitching. I am 29 years old with 5 years big league experience, am pitching well with good velocity, but am here in AAA. And I can take it all in stride because this is where God wants me right now.Don't mistake my acceptance of God's plan for contentment. I am itching to get to the big leagues in the worst way. I feel I wasted 5 good years of playing in front of an audience and having a web page that used to register over 1,000 hits a day and never did I do my part to spread the Word. I am hungrier than ever to pitch for a big league team but now it is for the right reasons. I have a reason to be successful at baseball that is stronger than any reason I have had in the past. It's not money, it's not fame, it's not glory to me or my family. It's glory to God. I have a God given ability to throw a baseball at the highest level of competition, and what have I done with it? I have never trusted that ability to take me where God wants me to go. I always tried to control my own destiny instead of just taking what God has given me and living with it.It has been an amazing two months for me. I can't believe I am even saying that as a minor league player. If you have made it this far you are either a believer or have an interest in being a believer. I by no means have all the answers, I pray for knowledge and wisdom each day. I hope this message has encouraged you to develop your relationship with God. This is an uncertain time in our world, people are looking for answers, the harvest is ripe and it is my prayer that God will enter your life like He has mine. Turn your life over to Him. I have. Maybe I'll never make it back to the big leagues, and of course I would be disappointed by that, this is what I love to do. But if that's the price I have to pay to get closer to the Lord, then I can accept that.Remember that Jesus Christ loves you, He always will, no matter what you have done in the past He will forgive you, just as you should forgive others who have done wrong by you. There is only one way to get into heaven. We are all sports fans and how many times have we seen this but never really took the time to read it and understand what it means:John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so thatthose who believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life"Are you going to heaven? Will you have everlasting life?