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Eric Peterson, Published August 18 2013

Minor league players like F-M's Retherford try their best to strike balance between job, family

Fargo - C.J. Retherford was in Venezuela when his first child was born in Arizona. Technology made the distance seem closer.

The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks second baseman watched the birth via Skype from the training room in a baseball stadium.

“I felt like I was there emotionally,” Retherford said. “It was tough not being there.”

His son, Walker, was born last January when Retherford was playing winter ball for Caracas.

“They paid me pretty well to stay,” Retherford said. “For our family, it was good in the long run.”

Retherford is getting more of chance to see his kid these days. Shelby Wendland, his girlfriend, and their son, Walker, are in Fargo for the summer.

“I love traveling with him,” Wendland said. “I love being able to see him. I love being to come to his games. I couldn’t picture it being separated at all during the season.”

Retherford said the extra money he made staying in Venezuela through the end of the season allowed his family to be with him this summer.

The RedHawks – who are in first place in the American Association North Division – have an off day today in the middle of a six-game road trip. The team returns home Friday.

Having Walker around has helped Rutherford navigate the ups and downs of a professional baseball season.

“It helps the bad days pass,” Retherford said. “You go home and you have a good day and the day gets even better. It’s actually helped a lot as far as emotional wear of the game.”

Wendland said it has been challenging to not have a permanent place to call home. Retherford started the season playing for the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He played for the Lookouts in April and May before he was released. Retherford joined the RedHawks on June 17 about a month into the American Association season.

“Most babies have bed times. Walker on the other hand, does not have a bed time,” Wendland said. “We try to stay up and play with Walker at night because C.J. doesn’t get that much time with him since he plays baseball during the day.”

Walker is at most of his dad’s games at Newman Outdoor Field. Retherford can often be seen holding Walker on the field after home games.

“To spend that time with him … that’s a big perk for me,” Retherford said. “He won’t remember it, but he will have pictures.”

Retherford is having a memorable season for the RedHawks. He hits fourth in the batting order and has played stellar defense at second base.

Retherford is batting .280 with six home runs and 61 RBIs through 70 games.

“He swings at some ridiculous stuff, but he’s slashing, and if something comes off his bat it is usually hit hard,” RedHawks manager Doug Simunic said. “He puts the pressure on people.”

Retherford said he’s talked with teammate Ronnie Bourquin “a lot” about being a father.

Bourquin, who plays third base for F-M, has two kids, ages 6 and 3. His wife, Jamie, is expecting the couple’s third child. Jamie is due in September.

“He’s a good dad and (Shelby) is a wonderful mother,” Bourquin said. “So they are doing a great job with him.”

Retherford is headed back to Venezuela in October to play another season, which lasts around three months. He said the rest of his family will head back to Arizona.

“I’m not just playing for me anymore. I’m playing for my family and for him,” Retherford said. “I take my job a lot more seriously now. I’m more responsible about my job and what I’m doing on and off the field.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com