Marlins taking advantage of sightseeing opportunities on road trips
The land surrounding the college town of Lubbock, Texas, is so flat you can see it go on for miles.
Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos grew up there and went to school at Texas Tech University before the organization drafted him in 2009.
"It’s a lot different from what I get to experience here," Ramos said.
As a major leaguer, 81 games are spent away from home.
This season, Miami will travel twice to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers and Angels. In two weeks, the club will play 11 games in California.
At first exciting and new, the allure wears off a bit when you’ve been in the league 10 years and make the same stops each season.
Still, veteran utility player Jeff Baker enjoys taking his kids to aquariums in the visiting cities, particularly the one in Atlanta.
Even though he was born the son of a military father and was raised in Virginia, he saw the infamous cherry blossoms on the way to Nationals Park this season for the first time since he was a kid.
"The thing for us once you get out and around and you’ve been around the league a couple of times you hone in and finetune it," Baker said. "I went down and saw places and over the years I would like to see plays and zoos. I’ve done all that stuff instead of sitting in a room watching TV and watching the walls cave in on you."
Outfielder Reed Johnson recently told Ramos to download the History Channel app on his phone. It provides information on the various historical places in a city.
That came in handy on the first road trip, when the Marlins went to the nation’s capital and Philadelphia.
On the off day in New York City, players took advantage of all the Big Apple had to offer.
Ace Jose Fernandez paid his respects at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
Closer Steve Cishek and his wife saw the Tony Award-winning musical "Wicked."
"Marissa and I had never been to a Broadway play or a play in general, so we wanted to see what the hype was about," Cishek said. "It was wicked awesome."
First baseman Garrett Jones, left fielder Christian Yelich and FOX Sports Florida broadcaster Allison Williams visited Marlins fan Cesar Pichardo at the MLB Fan Cave.
Before being sent down to Triple-A New Orleans, reliever Arquimedes Caminero traveled with the club to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Since he would arrive at the ballpark for a night game around 1 p.m., by the time buses departed for the hotel about an hour before midnight Caminero would be too tired for much else the following morning.
"When I go with the team, mostly I just go to the stadium, and when I go back to the hotel I want to rest," Caminero said. "It is cool. I like to fly somewhere else. I like to go around a city, but when I’m with the team I just want to rest because it’s tough."
As a kid, Ramos rarely left Texas because he played baseball year-round. Now, he has the travel bug. Last offseason, he and Giancarlo Stanton went to Europe.
Although some cities offer more in terms of sightseeing, he relishes the opportunity to experience everything from their landmarks to delicacies. The wonderment hasn’t worn off during his second full season in the big leagues.
"I’m talking to my parents and my dad says it’s pretty cool what I get to do," Ramos said. "That’s when I stop and realize as a player you don’t want to be sitting thinking about all of this when you’re trying to go out there and compete because it puts you out of the moment.
"When I get home I talk to my parents and think, ‘Wow, this is pretty crazy that I’m able to do this and I’m blessed.’ It’s a great feeling to talk to my parents about it and fly them out to certain places they haven’t been before also and have them experience it with me."