White Sox Groom Saladino For Big League Play
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
This spring and summer, we're following two minor league baseball players. We're learning about the pressures on an athlete, the emotional highs and lows, and just what their lives are like. One of the players is a young man named Tyler Saladino. He's in the Chicago White Sox organization, and fans are excited about the future for this 22-year-old.
In fact, the White Sox began trying him in a new position last week: second base. That could mean they're grooming him for a spot on the big league roster. We first met Tyler at the end of spring training, just after he tasted something special. He played a few games with the big league team.
TYLER SALADINO: Hearing them announce and here comes your starting lineup for the White Sox, for your Chicago White Sox, however they say it, it's a pretty cool feeling. And it's something that I'm going to keep with me throughout the season, throughout my career, and all the work I have to do to try and make it to the big leagues.
GREENE: Since then, Tyler has been playing for the Birmingham Barons, the White Sox minor league AA affiliate in Alabama. I caught up with him yesterday, and baseball wasn't the only thing on his mind.
SALADINO: Hey, David.
GREENE: How are you?
SALADINO: I'm doing well. How are you?
GREENE: Really good. Thank you for letting us give you a ring.
SALADINO: Yeah, no problem.
GREENE: So where are you right now? Where are you talking to me from?
SALADINO: I'm in Birmingham, at our apartment. And...
GREENE: This is the apartment you said you were going to have to find pretty quickly once you landed there in Birmingham.
SALADINO: Yeah, I've got - there's three other teammates living here right now. We're all splitting the cost of everything. I think it's 881 for the month, and we're splitting that four ways. So it's actually working out pretty well for us.
GREENE: And what's the place like?
SALADINO: It's actually - everything's been remodeled. They put in new hardwood floors. It didn't come with furniture in it or anything, so we had to rent that. We've each got a bed in our room, a dresser, a little nightstand kind of drawer deal, kitchen table. They have, like, all different packages. You could've gotten the complete package with pots and pans, dishes and all that, but one of our roommate's wives was coming down and she brought all the extra stuff that we needed for the kitchen and all that. So we just got the basic package.
GREENE: So I've been checking out some of the Tyler Saladino buzz in the Chicago media. And they made a pretty big deal about you moving from shortstop to second base.
GREENE: The Chicago press was suggesting this might be a position, if they move you to second base, where you could - might be an avenue to reach the major league club much sooner.
SALADINO: Yeah. It's obviously a little bit different than shortstop. There's a few different sets of skills you have to be able to do and perform over on that side of the infield. But, yeah, I mean, if that's what it takes, then I'm going to work hard at second base and try and get everything down there and be ready to go for them.
GREENE: Do you want the attention? Like, does that kind of excite you that there might be buzz up in Chicago about, you know, what's Tyler Saladino up to down in Birmingham? When's he going to be called up? Or is that kind of stuff a distraction?
SALADINO: For me, personally, I don't care for it much, just because baseball's hard enough, and I just would rather focus with the team that I'm playing with. But, I mean, it's cool for my family and all that. They love seeing that stuff. They get really excited about it.
GREENE: Has your family made it out to Birmingham from California to see you play yet?
SALADINO: No. They'll be on their way out first week in June.
GREENE: Well, Tyler, good luck. And we're going to try and get down there and see some ballgames at some point. We're excited to chat in person.
SALADINO: All right. Thank you. Take care.
GREENE: That's Tyler Saladino, an infielder - for now, at least - with the Birmingham Barons. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.