ANAHEIM, Calif. – If you happen to be attending Thursday night's Rangers-Twins game in Target Field and are feeling at all hospitable, bring a pillow. Texas may need some.
The Rangers weren't due to land in Minnesota until 5:30 a.m. Thursday. And that's if all travel logistics go smoothly following their 7:05 p.m. local time getaway day game in Anaheim on Wednesday night.
Yes, clubs sometimes get stuck in a time warp when traveling.
But this one is extreme.
So extreme that closer Joe Nathan, Texas' assistant player representative, phoned the players' union offices in New York before this trip to double-check a new rule negotiated in the most recent Basic Agreement governing the time of getaway day games.
“The rule isn't in regard to when we're playing the next day,” Nathan says. “It's very backwards. It's very wrong, the way we have it.”
It is a common complaint from players, when, as they finish a series in one city, the final game is played at night instead of in the afternoon on the travel day.
Some teams are more courteous to their opponents than others. Oakland, for example, almost always plays an afternoon game in those circumstances. The Angels rarely do.
So that's why the issue was addressed in the last negotiations between players and owners. And what they came up with was this:
When a club travels east at least two time zones with a day off the next day, the getaway day game cannot be a night game.
“Guys wanted to protect their off days,” Nathan says. “It should be more important that players don't get to bed at 8 a.m. when they have to play later that night than when they have an off day.
“Obviously, this is going to be a disadvantage to us in game one in Minnesota. And actually, it's the second day when you feel it.
“You get to game one, you'll be a walking zombie. And game two, you're not going to feel right, either.
“It's something we're going to have to address in the next agreement.”
Same scenario hit the Rangers coming out of Anaheim a couple of years ago when they were headed to Chicago for a series with the White Sox.
“We landed, and a bunch of us went straight to breakfast,” Rangers outfielder David Murphy says.
They'll probably do the same thing again, Murphy says. Land, breakfast, bed, ballpark.
“What are you going to do?” Texas manager Ron Washington says. “It's the schedule.
“Sleep as long as you possibly can, get up, go play baseball.”
Crazy thing is, the Angels aren't doing themselves any favors, either. They, too, play Thursday night. Though, in flying to Seattle, they at least remain in the same time zone.
Nathan, 38, has experience as a player rep but was mostly unaware of travel issues from the West Coast back east because he's spent the majority of his career with Minnesota (2004-2011).
He phoned the union about a week ago when he saw the Texas itinerary for this week and thought, “This can't be right.”
“It's funny it's taken this long,” he says. “You'd think somebody would have addressed it before now.”
Because they haven't, the Rangers will battle the Twins and their own body clocks.
“We've done it before, and we'll do it again,” Nathan says. “I'll be excited to be back in Minnesota. And we'll have some adrenaline.”