I’ll be back, that’s for sure. It’s nothing really serious. There’s just some pain right now from the fracture and it’s not allowing me to function the way I want to. Hopefully in the next couple weeks, I can get some activities in and hopefully, as we get into that third week, I’ll be getting into some serious baseball activity. I don’t think the fracture has a chance of displacing, so that’s good. That means it’s more pain threshold than anything. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.
Samardzija says he can play center? We’ll see. I’ve seen him shag. He’s all right.
For me, and I think for a lot of the guys, we’ve been waiting for this. Being in first, you can take a lot of pressure off yourself as far as looking at your own numbers and things of that nature. When you see your team at the top of the list in first place, now your numbers seem like they go out the door. It’s the team that matters. Whether you’re having a good year or bad year, the team recognizes, “Hey, we’re in first place right now. We have a couple months left and it’s all about winning baseball games.”
If you can take the focus off what you’re doing as an individual, I think that’s the main goal of our team — to have everybody involved in that team aspect of things and just concerned about winning ballgames. There are guys who got off to slow starts and I think being in first and really concentrating on what the team needs to do to stay there is only going to benefit everybody. At the end of the year, you usually see guys on good teams will have pretty solid years individually. We have to be smart enough to realize that. If you can have a good year as a team, your numbers will be right where they need to be.
All the injuries and all the ups and downs we’ve gone through, we can finally see ourselves in first place. We know it can go away tomorrow with a loss and a St. Louis win. But it’s helped us kind of refocus on what’s important, which is winning baseball games.
Some of us went over to Walter Reed Medical Center today and talked to some of the vets there. It was all similar injuries — it was mostly from IEDs and stuff like that. The stories were so similar. We were telling them how most of the time you go into a hospital and you just want to get out, but those guys were in totally different spirits. They’re so thankful at what the doctors are doing and amazed at the work the staff has done on them and all their brothers in there. It was an eye opening experience, and it was good to see how well those guys are doing. They were in such great spirits and they’re happy to be alive. The ones we saw were doing real well.
You know they’re watching you on TV, and you want to make sure you’re giving everything you can because they don’t have the opportunity to do the same thing, especially in the situation they’re in right now. All of them were so thankful we came in. You feel guilty in a way. They’re sacrificing their lives and bodies out there for all of us. It’s sad that so many people have forgotten about them. I think more people need to open their eyes, especially people in our shoes who have some fame and notoriety, and they need to get down there and donate some of their time and see those guys and talk to them.
They were so happy to see us. One of the guys who was leading us around was tearing up towards the end. He was like, “You brought Chicago to me — I miss home. We thank you so much.” We felt guilty. We didn’t do anything — we’re just playing a game. You have to realize as a player how much your play and winning ballgames means to these guys, especially the troops overseas.
Who went? It was Dempster, “Bussy,” Heilman, Theriot, Koyie and Hoffpauir. We were there a couple hours at least. We just took our time in every room and hung out with the guys. They told us some stories about experiences over there and how they got hurt and stuff like that. They were really open. It was hard. They keep reminding you how happy they are to see you there — it gives them a break. They see their families all the time and they see a lot of the same faces. They really seemed to appreciate us stopping by.
I wear a bracelet in support of the troops. My buddy was over in Iraq three years ago, and he had a year stint there. He was able to get out of there scot-free. He’s older, and he’s doing recruiting stuff in San Antonio now. Ever since he went over, I’ve worn this. Sometimes it’ll break, so I have to order a couple more off the Internet. It’s something — I want them to know they’re always in my heart. Now I have a couple more faces to put the bracelet to.
A lot of them were Cubs fans. We met a Houston fan. They didn’t care. They were happy to see us. Otis put together some shirts and hats. It was kind of an unexpected thing. I just felt like going over there. It was a good thing — we were able to get them some signed balls. There were a couple guys who were huge Cubs fans and they had pennants on the doors and their parents had Cubs hats on and we took a lot of pictures. We had a great time.
I’ve known Ted as a baseball player for four, five years now. I had him in Toronto and he was an All-Star in Toronto one of the years I was there. He’s just a guy who, to me, really deserves it because all he cares about is winning. He’s such a competitor and you can see the competitiveness not only on the field but what he does to prepare himself the four days between starts. A lot of guys might be gifted guys who don’t have to do a whole lot of work. He’s a gifted guy and puts in a whole lot of extra work. I think that’s why you see him have so much success. Just getting his 100th win is a great accomplishment for a guy who really deserves it.
As far as Fontenot goes, we had some suggestions for him, like yoga or stretching to try to lengthen himself out a little bit. Hopefully, he comes back in the second half about six-foot and he’ll start playing like he’s six-foot-four. That’s the plan for him.
I think it’ll be a good break for everybody mentally to get out of here and take a couple days and come back fresh and see how we fare against the Nationals when it starts up again.
It was nice to go down there and get some at-bats with the Peoria team. You get to see how excited the kids are, and not only to play baseball but to see you there. It wasn’t just me, but Aramis being there, too. It’s good to show those kids that two guys coming from the big leagues are just normal guys.
I was fortunate to grow up around big leaguers and grow up in that atmosphere and it helped me a lot because I realized these guys are just normal guys and it’s not a far-fetched dream. If you work hard, it’s an achievable goal. When you go down on rehab stints like the two of us did, it becomes a reality for those kids and they can see they’re really not that far away. I was in Hagerstown, which is the same league as the Midwest League, which is low A, and I was three years from being in the big leagues. Sometimes they think they’re so far away, and they’re really not.
We got spoiled down there. There were 15,000 people there for the games. It was not your normal A ball experience. I think it would’ve been different if nobody knew we’d be there. The crowds would’ve been different. It was a good experience to go down and see those guys. They appreciated eating stuff other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too.