Tyler Saladino's Quest To Play Major League Baseball

David Greene talks to major league baseball prospect Tyler Saladino, who was invited to play with the Chicago White Sox during spring training. Morning Edition will be following Saladino this season as he tries to make it to the majors.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A significant piece of paper was pinned to the wall at the Chicago White Sox spring training facility last week. It was the player assignment list for the precious few spots on the big league team, and the many more spots with its minor league affiliates.

For a player named Tyler Saladino, there was good news of sorts. Next to his name read Birmingham. That meant a minor league promotion to the Double-A ball up from Single-A last season. The 22-year-old earned that spot after weeks of rubbing shoulders at spring training with the Sox big money players.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME)

UNIDENITIFIED MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, taking the field, your Chicago White Sox.

GREENE: We are going to be following Tyler Saladino's quest to make it to the big leagues this season. And we reached him as he was packing up to join the Birmingham Barons.

TYLER SALADINO: I mean, it's exciting. You always want to try and climb a level every year or advance at any point, really. I mean, it's always a good thing to move up. I know my parents will be excited about it.

GREENE: Well, I understand that you got some playing time with the White Sox, I mean, the actual Major League team from Chicago. What has that experience been like?

SALADINO: It's a really good experience. Anytime you can get out with the big league club, even if you're not playing, it's a really good opportunity just to see how everything works out there and how everybody carries themselves, how they go about the business before the game, during, everything in between.

GREENE: And what would you say is the biggest difference that you saw in terms of how they carry themselves as you say?

SALADINO: Well, it's a lot more relaxed, just because, I mean, these guys have been doing it for so much longer. Spring training to them is - I can't imagine feels like much at all when they play in front of 30,000 people every day during season. So, it's - they're a lot more comfortable with what they're doing. They don't put as much pressure on themselves.

GREENE: And I suppose you're standing there, you know, being a young player, putting a ton of pressure on yourself while these guys are, you know, relaxing like it's just another day.

SALADINO: Yeah, yeah. At first it was real tough to calm the nerves. I mean, no matter what, even after two weeks, you get in a tight situation, you'll get a little bit of butterflies no matter what. But it's a good nervous. It's just making sure you're ready to go.

GREENE: Do you feel like you made a name yourself in the spring training, Tyler?

SALADINO: I mean, it's hard to say. I didn't really produce a whole lot in the beginning, but it got better towards the end. And I don't try to think about that stuff too much. I try to just play every day as hard as I can and hopefully the right set of eyes likes what they see.

GREENE: All right. Well - so if it's off to Birmingham, what happens next? You're going to be assigned to a hotel?

SALADINO: Yeah, we'll get a couple days. We'll fly out together. We'll get a few days in the hotel to try and figure out our living arrangements. All the players will come together and try and make groups to find places to stay.

GREENE: You stay like in - you'll find an apartment or something with some other guys?

SALADINO: Yeah. Usually there's certain apartment complexes that will either sponsor or they'll just be the ones that put themselves out there as places for us to stay. And we'll get that set up and then get rolling on the season.

GREENE: Tyler, you know, you have quite a baseball family. Your grandfather was your father's coach. Your father was your coach. How have they been involved in the spring training? Have they made it to any games from California?

SALADINO: Yeah, they're actually out a couple weeks ago, both my grandparents made it out as well, and they got to see me play. So, it was the first time they've seen my play since college.

GREENE: So they saw you in a White Sox uniform.

SALADINO: Yeah. And I actually played on the field too, so it was pretty cool.

GREENE: Does that feel like getting there on that field in Chicago is just a, you know, a little closer?

SALADINO: Yeah. I mean it always is. I was fortunate enough to start a couple games this spring. So, hearing them announce starting - 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: Tyler, we are going to be following your season wherever it goes, and best of luck to you.

SALADINO: All right. I appreciate it and looking forward to it.

GREENE: That's Tyler Saladino at spring training with the Chicago White Sox.

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