Following the White Sox through a day that starts for some at 7:30 a.m. and ends after 10 p.m.
Vinnie Fresso is often the first to arrive to the White Sox clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field.
That was the case July 6, when the clubhouse manager opened the door at 7:30 a.m. and turned on the lights.
By the time Fresso turned off those same lights roughly 17 hours later, the Sox and Minnesota Twins had played a split doubleheader, combining for 727 pitches, 46 runs and 59 hits.
“Well, actually, it’s just a long day,” Fresso says.
It made for a long day then, and it figures to be another long day when the Sox and Detroit Tigers play a split doubleheader today at the Cell.
Though there’s plenty to watch on the field, there’s almost as much off it as players and clubhouse officials prepare to play two.
Fresso starts his day by ensuring there’s a uniform in each locker, everyone’s lucky shorts or shirts are clean, and breakfast is ready before the players start rolling in for their workouts or treatment.
“Nine o’clock, came in, did my running — I had thrown the day before — I had to go out there and get my 20 minutes in,” says rookie pitcher John Danks, who didn’t play in either game on this date. “I was still kind of sleepy so I put off the weightlifting and arm program until between games.”
For the most part, the Sox pile into the locker room and begin eating breakfast around 10 or 11 a.m.
“Try to stay awake,” Mark Buehrle says of his plans for the doubleheader during a pregame interview. “Hopefully, there’s enough entertainment on the bench that hopefully you can stay awake.”
At the same time manager Ozzie Guillen meets with reporters for the first time in his office, players begin to pick up the intensity of pregame routines that usually involve some combination of heating, icing, showering, hitting, throwing, eating and watching TV.
Because there is no pregame batting practice, anyone who wants to hit does so in the cage. There is no team stretch or group catch, so, again, everyone is on his own, warming up on the field minutes before game time.
The national anthem is sung. Starter Jon Garland throws the first pitch at 1:07. It is a short long day for the Sox starter, who leaves after 3 1/3 innings and allowing a career-worst 12 runs.
That means the bullpen is up early and often.
“I didn’t give myself an opportunity to relax,” closer Bobby Jenks says. “I was up moving around during the first game. When you run through pitchers like that, (I have to keep) myself ready obviously.”
Designated hitter Jim Thome is just as active, alternating between watching the game and hitting in the cages just behind the dugout.
“It makes for a quick game, but also when you’re doing things, it makes it quicker than it really is (because) you’re locked into what’s going on,” Thome says.
As Thome hops in and out of the cage, Jenks bounces around the bullpen and the Sox get killed, Game 2 starter Gavin Floyd shows up in the clubhouse around 3:30 — the normal time a starter would arrive for a 7:11 start.
“I kind of relax and enjoy myself until a certain time when I put my headphones on and get focused,” Floyd says.
All around Floyd, clubhouse attendants make sure the room is clean, new uniforms are out and the between-game meal is ready.
“You don’t want to weigh them down so they go out there and get sick,” Fresso says. “That’s the biggest problem we’ve got, trying to figure out what to do (for a between-game meal).”
They decide on Chinese food.
Three hours and 42 minutes after Garland’s first pitch, Minnesota finishes a 20-14 win and the Sox head into the clubhouse to relax for a short time.
Game 2 starts in 142 minutes, and there’s little time to waste.
“I don’t remember being an uglier game than this one — both sides,” Guillen says during his second meeting with the media, which is in the tunnel just outside of the clubhouse 10 minutes after Game 1 ends.
While some players finish eating, Danks is doing the weightlifting he put off, some relievers are icing their arms and Toby Hall — who caught all 201 Sox pitches in Game 1 — is icing everything.
“Sat in a cooler,” Hall says. “I caught over 200 pitches, so ... typically you have time for normally a nap or something, lounge around or watch TV, but (that) was just a melee and there wasn’t much fun and smiling going on.”
Others are in the shower.
“It was like a four- or five-shower day for me,” says Ryan Bukvich, who threw 1 2/3 innings in Game 1.
Less than an hour before Game 2, many Sox are again in the batting cage.
“Get in the cage, loosen up, (and go) back out there,” says third baseman Josh Fields, one of four Sox to play all 18 innings on this day. “We hit before the game, throughout the game.”
The clothes the players shed between games and the towels they used after their showers, meanwhile, are in the industrial-size, 50-pound washing machines.
“Because of the timeframe involved, you don’t want to sit with, say, the same underwear on for 2 1/2 hours before the start of the next game,” Fresso says. “So you’ve got enough time to do a 30-minute load, get it dried and get it back out to the guys.”
Because they lost the first game, the Sox will switch to their black jerseys for the nightcap. If they had won, it would have been all white uniforms all the way.
Bukvich and most of the relievers avoid throwing before Game 2, since they’re worn out from the first game, but a few position players loosen their arms minutes before the 7:11 start time.
It’s time for national anthem No. 2 and, a few moments later, third-base coach Razor Shines meets with the umpires for the second time to, theoretically, go over the ground rules.
“They don’t go over ground rules again,” Shines says. “We just did that. (It’s mainly) just joking around like, ‘Let’s try to get this one done in a little timelier fashion.’ That type of stuff.”
The Sox again get off to a slow start, falling behind 6-0 after five innings.
“During that second game, you hit that wall around the fifth inning, like, ‘Oh, my God, we still have eight more innings to go’ in a joking way, of course,” Jenks says. “That’s when you throw back a couple of Red Bulls and are ready to rock.”
Despite catching Game 1, Hall joins the relievers in the bullpen around the fifth. So, how do his legs feel?
“They’re fine. I’m a trained professional. Stallion,” he jokes.
Conversation, naturally, begins to wear thin on the bench.
“You start looking at the time and talking about how long you’ve been at the field,” Danks says. “Obviously, you’re pretty tired of baseball at that point. You’re ready to go home, lay down.”
“Some of (the conversations), we can’t tell you on TV or in the paper,” Buehrle says. “We pretty much talk about everything possible just to keep busy and stay awake.”
Come the ninth inning, the Sox are out of it and Fields takes the field for the 18th and final time.
“When you’re a position player, you don’t like to be standing out on the field as well as pitchers don’t want to be out on the mound, so you think the same thing: Get three outs fast,” the rookie said.
A.J. Pierzynski pops up to short to finally end a 12-0 Twins win — 9 hours, 6 minutes after the first pitch was thrown and 12 hours after most of the players arrived at the Cell.
“It’s two things I can say: long and bad one,” Guillen says in the conference room during his third and final meeting with the media. “I’ve been here since 9 o’clock in the morning, all of a sudden I go home 12 hours after doing nothing.”
A few players grab some postgame ribs, but for the most part, they scram fast.
“By the time I got home, it was nice,” Bukvich says. “It was like, I want to watch one show, sit on the couch and put my feet up before I get in bed. That didn’t happen. I didn’t make it through. I was falling asleep on the couch.
“It was an exhausting day.”
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