College

Saturday, May 04 2013 11:14 PM

Life in the Minors: Minor-league travel can be a major grind

By The Bakersfield Californian

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.

For the most part, anyone who follows baseball (especially Minor League Baseball) has heard about the notoriously rough travel conditions we experience.

It's become a part of the mantra for minor-league players to reference these scenarios as motivation to make it to the Major Leagues.

The irony is that it doesn't change much in the Major Leagues except for the quality of travel. It may be a chartered plane, or there are two buses instead of one, but at the end of the day you are still traveling for eight hours through the middle of the night and getting into a hotel as most people are getting up for work.

You are still stopping at rest stops and Waffle Houses at all hours of the night (and morning).

We are currently on a seven-game, seven-day road trip that will cover a total of about 930 miles.

Two hotels with minimal food options (if any) that meet our schedule, sharing a seat with another 6-foot-3, 200-pound player and trying to agree on who gets to use the window to sleep on is all part of the deal.

It is always a funny sight to see how creative guys get with ways to "get comfortable" and catch some sleep. Some players lay in the aisle, some stretching their legs across to another's arm rest or even the occasional pair that sleeps leaning against one another. (Yes, these guys have photos taken and are the butt of jokes for the next 24 hours.)

The day after a long, overnight trip, our training room looks more like triage than a clubhouse. Guys are heating their necks, asking a trainer to "stick your elbow in it" or the barrage of getting treatment for a stiff back. Our trainers do an amazing job of working out our aches and pains from the trip.

The game that day is always the most challenging. You are tired, sore and never in an ideal state, yet you have to find a way to get yourself ready to compete.

There is no easy fix and it is a big challenge, but it is the same challenge every other team in the league has to play through as well.

"It's a part of the game. You don't like it? Too bad!"

On Saturday, a few of us were discussing the road trip and how challenging it is. We talked about the beds, the bus seats, the food, etc. Then we had a moment where someone said, "I'd rather be doing this than a lot of other things!"

It is something that my teammates and I always try to keep in perspective. Each of us could have easily been born into an African tribe with contaminated water or grown up in the drug cartels.

We are extremely fortunate to live the lives we do and to know we can lay down on a bed each night. While long road trips and odd hours are a challenge, they are also a wonderful challenge to face.

Count your blessings each day and know that there is always something to be grateful for.

Our current trip has brought us to Winston-Salem, N.C., home to the Chicago White Sox High-A affiliate. This is where former Cal State Bakersfield stud Martin Medina currently plays. We will both play in today's game at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The game can be streamed at MILB.TV (subscriptions are $39.99 for the entire year or $9.99 per month).

McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays for the Salem (Va.) Red Sox, the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. His column runs Sundays throughout the baseball season. He can be reached at mmccarthybaseball@gmail.com.

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