Baseball / Sports

Players seem unfazed by delay, use time to bond

CLEVELAND -- The Detroit Tigers arrived at Progressive Field a few minutes before 4:30 p.m. Monday for their 7:05 game against the Cleveland Indians.

A mechanical problem with the plane forced the team to stay an extra night in Boston. The team scrambled to find hotel rooms and some players said they didn't get much sleep. Another plane was used to bring the players to Cleveland.

"I've had these things happen before when I played, just a little mechanical issue with the plane," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Spent an extra night in Boston. Little short on sleep, but we'll be fine."

Ausmus said the players didn't get to their hotel rooms until about 3 a.m.

"A lot of the hotels were full," he said. "We tried to get a hotel by the airport, but they were booked. It's tough to get 60 rooms at 2 in the morning."

The players, most of whom were still wearing team-colored Zubaz apparel they wore the night before, seem largely unfazed.

"At least they were comfortable," Ausmus joked. "They don't love the idea that we had to go through it, but they were kind of joking about it, making light of it."

Most of the players grabbed something to eat shortly after arriving at the ballpark and waited for their gear to arrive before taking batting practice.

"The schedule's a little disrupted, but we're still able to take batting practice for the guys who feel up to it," Ausmus said. "Today probably won't be as bad as (Tuesday)."

Ausmus said this was the latest he had ever arrived at a ballpark to play a game due to travel issues, but he has had his share of horror stories.

He described one time, playing a night game in San Diego that ran late on a family trip.

"We can't take off from the international airport, so we leave from the military base," Ausmus recalled. "When we get there, the plane's slide had been pulled and you can't roll it up and stick it back in the door, so they had to get another plane. We're waiting in a hangar. Wally Joyner was there. He ordered pizza for all the families, little kids. Took off at 5 in the morning San Diego time and landed in rush hour traffic in Chicago, got to the hotel about 11, took a nap, played 14 innings that night."

Left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly, who started for the Tigers on Monday night, had traveled ahead of the team and was the only player who arrived at the park on time. He tweeted out a picture of an empty locker room with a slice of pizza on a table shortly as the team was busing to the stadium.

Tigers rightfielder Torii Hunter said Smyly called players in the morning to find out what happened.

"He was really worried about us, so that's bonding," Hunter said.

Hunter said the players were noisy and doing their normal postgame routine until they said the flight was canceled.

"We had fun and we were jumping up and down, cracking jokes with each other, and then an hour-and-a-half went by and trying to figure out what was wrong with the plane and then they said, 'Hey, we're going back to the hotel.' I think all the jokes just stopped," he said. "So, we got back to the hotel and we tried to get some rest. I think some of us went to bed around 4 a.m. this morning and got up and ate breakfast around 8. We're tired, but no excuse."

One of the most inconvenient issues the players dealt with was not getting their bags back. They arrived in Cleveland with whatever they had when they deplaned.

"We've got a good group of guys in here that have great personalities and good character," Hunter said. "Just the bonding we had."

Hunter said that strong bond was necessary Monday morning.

"Some of us didn't brush our teeth," he joked. "Some guys didn't shower. You know, we used our finger as a toothbrush. We had the hotel mouthwash. Some guys just stink. I mean, that's what we do. We're a team. We're bonding.

"We don't have anything. All we had was what we had last night, which was nothing. I still have the same underwear on."

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