On The Road
Friday, May 13, 2011
“I’m the best shorstop on this team,” joked manager Ozzie Guillen as he played catch to warm up with Kevin Hickey. “I can catch better than Vizquel, I can throw better than Vizquel … I just can’t hit.” Meanwhile, Hall of Famer to be Omar Vizquel stood behind Guillen laughing.
Players and staff enjoyed an off day in San Francisco yesterday, many heading to Napa while others took in the sights in the city and others still took on the golf course.
I had mistakenly thought that one by-product of my trip west would be warm weather. Not. On Wednesday in Anaheim it was very nice, 75 and sunny, but it was still 20 or so degrees cooler than Chicago. The Bay Area is now exception as Sox hitters took batting practice in hoodies and we all worn our winter coats.
What was that line about the coldest winter being a summer in San Francisco?
You may have noticed Mike Gellinger filling in for Harold Baines as first base coach on this trip. Harold Baines’ mother underwent some surgery in Maryland and HB returned home to be with her as she recovers. Here’s to a speedy return to the lineup Mrs. Baines. My guess is we will see Harold Monday in Chi-town.
One of My Oops-es
I was relating one of those moments from early in my career when I wasn’t sure if I’d have a later in my career.
In Texas one night we were scheduled to make a player move after the game. The plan was to send Matt Karchner down to Class AAA to make room for someone, I’ve forgotten who. Anyway, the 7:30 pm start in Arlington and the typical long American League game meant the news of the move wouldn’t make the next day’s newspaper. So with the beat writers up against their deadlines and a couple of innings left in the game, I told them the move, asking them to not report it until after the game (this being the pre-internet days, the news wouldn’t appear until the next day’s newspaper).
So in comes Karchner to pitch the bottom of the eighth. The next hitter smokes a line drive off his left knee, and Karchner goes down in a heap. Instead of being sent out, he was headed to the DL instead.
“Change of plans,” I told the writers. “I’ll know more after the game.”
Gulp. “I already sent it in,” one reporter said. “It’s in the first edition.”
My turn to gulp. “You’ve got to get it changed and right now or it’s my job,” I explained/yelled.
I remember the sense of panic, but I honestly can’t tell you how it came out. But I remained employed.
It was interesting and fun to note the changes in our players’ pregame activities since when I travelled more extensively with the team.
Each day in Anaheim, a number of young pitchers were out on the field tossing a frisbee to one another. They had the diamond covered and one toss even went over the center-field fence. “Home run, it’s outta here.”
Others spend time on their ipads. At one point in Anaheim, four of our guys sat in a row, intently working on their ipads.
Vizquel can often be found on his computer. and Wednesday was no different. He was showing Paul Konerko a video. I had heard about it and wanted to see it firsthand.
The video shows a nature guide on the grassy edge of a body of water.
“This is in Venezuela,” Vizquel explains proudly.
The guide steps into the murky water and pulls out an Anaconda, the snake has wrapped itself around a turtle.
“See, it’s a young one,” Vizquel explains. The guide pulls the snake out onto a dirt road.
Suddenly, Vizquel enters the frame. He holds the 10-foot snake by it’s tail as the guide tries to hold it’s head down.
“Don’t hurt it,” Vizquel says on camera and the shortstop/naturalist moves closer to the snake’s head.
“Have you ever done this before?” Konerko asks his teammate as the video rolls.
“No, but I’ve seen it on TV,” Vizquel answers.
And as you watch, Vizquel sneaks up behind the angry snake, crouching down like he is about to steal second, and BANG, grabs the snake behind its head. The snake writhers around his arm, jaws open, looking for something to bite.
“It’s nervous, it’s scared,” Vizquel explains.
On camera, the snake slowly relaxes, realizing it cannot move.
“See, it looked up and realized Omar Vizquel had caught it,” Konerko laughed. “It was in safe hands.”