Non-Prospect Diary: Dirk Hayhurst

Dirk Hayhurst is a 26-year-old
righthanded reliever in the Padres system who has spent parts of three
seasons at high Class A Lake Elsinore.

he made it all the way to Triple-A Portland last season, Hayhurst began
this year back with the Storm, officially making him a California
League veteran.

But stop the presses . . . Hayhurst was called up to Double-A San Antonio on Wednesday after going 0-1, 1.80 in 20 innings for the Storm.

2003 eighth-round pick out of Kent State is writing a diary for
Baseball America this season, delving into the side of the minor
leagues fans seldom see.

We had a 7 a.m. bus today. A fate worse then death. 7 a.m. buses require we players to get up around 5 something.

Like zombies, we trudge through our morning ritual and lumber off to a cramped bus and into an inevitable fight for good seating arrangements. I know a lot of you out there do this every day and you have no sympathy for us.

You’re up early for long commutes to work hard for your paychecks. I am not asking you for a Kleenex to cry in, I am just saying that getting up this early sucks for us because we are spoiled by sleeping in and staying up late.

Usually we get up around 9:30 or 10:00. That may even be a little to unrealistic for some guys. Maybe it would be better to say most of us don’t get up until around 11 or noon. Yeah, I’ll go with that.

So this 7 a.m. bus business is like asking us to cut sleep time in half. I know, I know, most of you reading this are like “Oh, poor baby.”

It’s OK, I am used to it. People call me at noon from back home just to say “I’m sorry, did I wake you up?” as sarcastically as the can. Some even call real early just to wake me up. Jerks. This is all fine, because the job’s perks are way better then its drawbacks. I digress.

Back to the bus.

During these odd hour trips, when sleep has been sacrificed for prime road time, you will see some of the most amazing things occur. From my perch in the back of the bus, I was able to record some sights as we zombified players made our way from Lake E to Stockton.

Here goes:

It’s way too early and my eyes feel bruised and tired. I want to sleep, but I can’t get comfortable on this bus for the life of me. I envy those lucky guys who can sleep in any situation.

Currently half the guys are passed out. They lay sprawled over seats, crunched against windows, and stretched out in aisles in the attempt to catch some Z’s during the travel. Their legs stretch over the aisle like bridges into adjacent seats. Untied shoes seem to anchor onto seat sides and arm rests . . . yet never on another player. A delicate arrangement of contorted body parts.

The guys dress in sweat pants and tops because it’s too early to worry about looking professional. Hooded shirts are pulled over heads and sunglasses are in place to block out the sun’s obnoxious attempt the start the day. Someone is snoring though you can barely hear it over the rumble of the bus’s diesel engine.

Other players are tossing and thrashing in their seats trying to get comfortable enough to catch a few minutes of hard sleep before their bodies get sore and protest for a position change. Thus begins the never ending cycle of twisting and turning in the futile attempt to find a comfortable sleeping pose. The sleep these unfortunate few capture is only a momentary reprieve from the cruel reality of the bus.

Some players have pillows from home, others use back-packs or folded jackets. They crush them, crease them, wad them up, or origami them into all manner of shapes–anything to extract as much comfort as possible.

Unfortunately the bus’s constant rumbles and bounces knock everything out of position and the rest never seems to last.

A few guys have their headphones on with their iPods cranked up in an attempt to drown out all the ambiance of the bus. They try to sleep with them on too, using the white noise as a shield. Others just turn on their tunes and stare. At what I don’t know, but they sit there, mouth agape, looking into nowhere like half dead statues hoping the music will hypnotize them.

A cell phone rings somewhere. A few of the guys groan, others stay dead, but most take this as a cue to shift positions. The person being called doesn’t even try to answer it, rather he just swats it like a fly until it stops making noise. Then he readjusts and continues the fight for slumber.

Two of the unfortunate few on the bus who are forced to share a seat have swallowed their pride and are leaning against each other ala Forest Gump style and sleeping. It’s worth it.

Most of the guys could probably stay up the whole time. I do. I have conceded that I can’t sleep on buses. But sleep isn’t the real luxury, it’s the time warp effect sleeps grants. Blacking out and waking up where you need to be with no recall of the grueling boredom in between–that’s the real treasure. The best bus trips are the ones you don’t remember.

There is a bottle rolling around on the floor. It could be anyone’s. Like a bottle thrown to sea from a castaway, it has journeyed the currents of the bus’s sway back to me. It collides into my shoe and I can tell it’s no longer Gatorade, because Gatorade doesn’t make a gravy flavor. Someone has recycled this bottle to contain another minor league baseball staple… I hope it doesn’t leak. I kick it under someone else’s seat.

Someone in the front of the bus has risen to use the bathroom. This means they have to navigate the barricade of criss-crossed legs that fill the aisle between them and the bathroom in the back. Their first step is onto the seat cushion, the next is onto the top of the seat itself. Then they pick their way across seat backs and handles, like Spiderman, trying no to step on any sleeping players. Sometimes this person will run into another person heading back from the bathroom. They’ll dance around each other high a top the seats, careful not to fall on any sleeping dragons.

The bathroom is a nightmare. It smells like urine and the door is no longer stopping the stench from leaking out into the back area of the bus. My area.

Despite the stick figure sign that shows a man sitting down to pee, which is “proper safety procedure” for urinating on a bus in motion, not one person does.

Men just will not sit down to take a wizz. Instead, in their half-asleep half-dazed stupor, they haphazardly aim into the toilet bowl. For some guys this is hard on firm, flat, stationary ground. But on a bouncing bus it’s almost impossible unless you’re Jet Li. Now you know why the bus smells so bad. And also why no one ever goes No. 2 on the bus.

Suddenly the bus reeks and it’s not from inside. We are in cow country. I look out the window to see pastures full of crammed in cows.

They are such stupid animals. Laying on top of each other, smushed together, staring off into nowhere. Their bathroom is the same place they sleep. Such dumb creatures . . .  I pause and take a look back a the players on the bus . . . Hmmm.

Well, at least we have iPods.

E-mail questions to Dirk at