A major league clubhouse is a unique place. It’s the player’s domain, but also where the writers do a bulk of their pre-game work. Shawn Green was the obvious story today. Jose Valentin was a bonus.
I spent most of my time working on several feature pieces, and had some long and productive conversations with Billy Wagner and David Wright.
After talking with Wright, I noticed ultimate fighting on one of the clubhouse TV’s. That led me to ask him if he ever watched professional wrestling. “When I was little, I watched it,” he said. “Everybody watched it.”
I then asked what he might say to a pitcher before an at-bat if hitters could talk to pitchers the way the wrestlers do before a bout. He couldn’t because he was laughing so hard.
It is interesting to see how they spend their time before heading out to BP. John Maine, tonight’s pitcher played a little chess with Green, then watched golf. … Another TV had the Braves and Phillies, while another had the Duke lacrosse game. … Ambiorix Burgos was eating a mango with a knife that could pass as a machete. … Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano played cards. … Tom Glavine sat next to Maine on a couch and read a magazine. … Jose Reyes listened to music on his headphones. … Others went in and out of the trainer’s room. … Others to and from the batting cages outside the clubhouse. … Rick Peterson was on an exercise bike. … Sandy Alomar on the phone. … Julio Franco ate a plate of rice and black beans.
These are the best times to talk with players because they are relaxed and their work day isn’t in full swing.