After winning the American Association championship last year, 29-year-old Goldeyes pitcher Edwin Carl headed home and interviewed for a new offseason job.

Instead of an office, Carl’s interview took place an empty dirt lot.

Equipped with a shovel and an ax, Carl was given 30 minutes to dig a 2x2x2 hole, just large enough for a boxed tree to fit in. After passing that test Carl was hired, and officially began working as a tree planter and general labourer at Moon Valley Nurseries.

The busy offseason began when the Farmington, New Mexico native packed his belongings and made the move to Mesa, Arizona, to build a new house and chapter of his life with his wife-to-be, Joanna Nugent.

Over the holidays, Carl’s parents took Edwin and Joanna to Moon Valley Nurseries, a tree nursery only seven minutes away from the couple’s new home. They wanted to purchase them a citrus tree as a housewarming gift.

“So we drove by, picked out a tree, picked out a pot, and I saw there was a sign that said ‘Help Wanted’,” said Carl. “I asked them what it entailed, and told them I was looking for some work to keep me busy and keep me active until baseball season started up again.”

After submitting his resume and passing the digging test, Carl was hired for the job. From December until April, Carl traded in his baseball cap for a floppy straw hat, and began working every day from sunrise until early afternoon.

“I told them when I started that I’d work as much as they needed me to – but I needed to take some time off to get married,” said Carl.

Carl and Nugent wed in front of family and friends on April 2nd, in Arizona. Their wedding was officiated by none other than David Rohm – Carl’s former Goldeyes teammate, and good friend.

Back at Moon Valley Nurseries, Carl learned a lot in a short period of time. He admits though, that his first day on the job wasn’t the best.

“They made me weed all day,” said Carl.  “But later I grew into some better jobs. I was able to drive the bobcat, the tractors… All the fun machinery that everyone wants to play on.”

At the nursery, Carl did everything from weeding and watering, to unloading trucks, moving trees to different sections, and transplanting smaller trees into larger boxes so they could be grown larger for the people wishing to buy them.

Carl picked up those duties fast. When it came to memorizing all the different types of trees and their families, there was a bit more of a learning curve.

“Before starting [at Moon Valley Nurseries] I didn’t notice what anything was. Being in Arizona, everything that we sold would not survive here [in Winnipeg] and vice versa, just because everything is either very heat tolerant or drought tolerant. They could live in the desert for a long period of time. Obviously I could tell what a cactus looks like and what a shrub looks like, but really being able to dissect these into different families and see when they bloom, that definitely took me a while. I never had any interest in that before,” Carl said.

He credits his friend Brandon from Moon Valley Nurseries, for teaching him everything there is to know about trees, and for helping him out throughout his time there.

Even though the job at the nursery was very physical, Carl still made sure he trained on his own each day to prep for the 2018 season.

“In the last couple weeks before I left, to avoid injury, I just had a section I watered and I basically just watered my section for 8 hours a day, started at sunrise and ended early afternoon, so I still had plenty of time to do my own training and my own workouts,” he said.

Carl’s favourite duty at the nursery?

“Driving the bobcat! I mean, you’re in a little bulldozer basically, you can do a lot of damage if you aren’t paying attention… but anything with a motor is a little more fun to play with.”

So far, the 2018 season seems to be going well for the starting pitcher. In his season debut, Carl recorded 11 strikeouts over six innings (matching an all-time career high), and passed Goldeyes alumni Shawn Onley for fourth on the Goldeyes’ career strikeouts list. He’s looking forward to seeing his wife Joanna, and their dog Snooks, when they come visit Winnipeg in the following months.