Detroit – The rumors had passed, the deal was done, and so the Tigers got back to business Friday.
But Thursday, yeah, that was a very tough day — wondering throughout the day who’d be coming and who’d be going, only to later have to say goodbye to the well-liked Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly.
“Yesterday, there was so much going on,” Torii Hunter said Friday, after the Tigers beat the Rockies, 4-2, at Comerica Park. “We were like in a fog.”
And they played like it, stumbling to a 7-4 loss to the White Sox.
That wasn’t the hardest part about Friday, though. It was all the farewells after the game.
Victor Martinez always finds that the toughest part of baseball — and he should know, having, in July 2009, been traded from the only team he ever knew, the Indians, to the Red Sox. When he got the news, Martinez broke down at his locker, along with his son, Victor Jose.
“I always say, this game’s so beautiful. The sad part is that,” Martinez said. “I’ll never forget the day I got traded. I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m glad that my son was younger at the time, I don’t think he understood at all what was going on.”
Martinez sure did, though.
The morning of July 31, 2009, he got a text from then-Indians GM Mark Shapiro telling him nothing was in the works.
“So, I was pumped,” Martinez said, now able to laugh about it. “Yes!”
Around lunch time, things had changed – and Martinez got another text.
And shortly thereafter, he was on his way out of Cleveland, and headed to Boston.
“It’s not a good feeling, especially when you’re in a place that you came up, spent so many years,” Martinez said. “It’s just tough to leave.”
Likewise, it’s tough to watch your teammates leave — like Smyly, who’d only been in the Tigers organization before the trade, and Jackson, a big part of the franchise for four years.
Even Victor Jose had a tough time with Friday.
“He understands now a lot more,” Martinez said. “He was feeling pretty bad.”
That’s the thing about baseball. The players make such good money, and play on such a grand stage, that fans tend to forget they’re human, just like you and me – with real emotions.
It’s why the Tigers clubhouse Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon, while certainly giddy over the arrival of an ace pitcher in lefty David Price, showed tempered enthusiasm out of respect for their now-former teammates.
Of course, it’s not all tears, either.
Justin Verlander, for one, just picked up a golfing buddy in Price. Verlander even extended an invite to Price to join his Saturday morning foursome, but Price, with so much on his plate now with the move from Tampa to Detroit, had to take a rain check.
“Finally, a golfer,” Verlander said after his win Friday. “We’ve got a lot of guys that don’t like to play.”