Diary: Kiké Hernández provides peek into Dodgers clubhouse



As told to Times staff writer Jorge Castillo.

Honestly, I think a lot of players, like me, didn’t have many expectations when we arrived for summer camp. We knew everything was going to be different, but we didn’t know what to expect because, obviously, this is something that never happened before.

But we reached a point we didn’t think we would reach.

My wife, Mariana, is pregnant with our first child, a girl, but deciding to play was easy. It was an informal conversation. It wasn’t a conversation that required us sitting down to talk. It was a little discussion today, a little more tomorrow, like that.

We both made clear that when things were safe, I had to play not only for my impending free agency but also because I wasn’t a bonus baby in the draft. It wasn’t that my family was poor. We were middle class (in Puerto Rico). But I also can’t go an entire year without a salary because I don’t know how long my career will last. I don’t know how much money I’ll make.

A lot of people have lost their jobs, and if I had the opportunity to play baseball and make some money, I was going to play. It’s not just two of us anymore, or four — I have to include the dogs. We have another mouth to feed.

We have a plan. Mariana always has a backpack ready. We live in Arizona. Thank God if something happens, she can jump in her car and drive home. And we have made clear that if someone on the team or someone she has been around tests positive, she will throw the backpack in her car and go home until things clear up.

Obviously, I would love for her to be with me for the season, but her and the baby’s health is most important. Even though I need her here with me to not be alone, if something happens, she’ll do what she has to do to ensure her health because a pregnancy compromises the immune system a bit and her health is the top priority right now.

She and the dogs are here with me for now and that helps because the days are very different.

There weren’t any restrictions in the clubhouse before this summer. You could get there whenever you wanted to start your routine. Us ballplayers, we like our routine, but we arrived this year not knowing what was going to happen. And that routine you had in the past, throw it out the window because it doesn’t work this year.

We spend maybe an extra hour at home every day, which makes the day a little longer. We can’t get to the ballpark for a game that starts at 6:40, for example, before 1:30. And when you arrive, it’s not to enter the clubhouse, it’s for the virus screening.

When you get to the ballpark, you eat when they tell you. It’s based on when they can provide you food. If you don’t want to eat at that time, well, you need to figure it out.
It’s a little difficult because you arrive at the ballpark and everything is a little rushed. At least that’s how the exhibition games at home have been.

We can’t enter the clubhouse until around 1:45, so we basically have a little less than two hours to do everything we need to do, prepare physically, get your treatment, do your routine, what you need to do to get your body ready.

After batting practice, we have around two more hours and it’s a little different. The only food available are sandwiches, potato chips and other snacks unless you ask for something a la carte. There isn’t a food room like before, so you eat at your locker.

Everything is social distancing. I had the second locker in the corner, but because we have to go every other locker now, they moved me to the locker to the left. My old locker is empty. [Corey] Seager is on the other side and it continues every other locker around the room.

In summer camp, before we started playing against other teams, we used the visitors’ locker room. Our locker room, in order to maintain proper social distancing, only had the 22 players with the most big league service time.

Once we started playing against other teams, they started sending some younger players to USC and they left others here. The guys who looked like were going to make the team had small aluminum lockers in the middle of the room, winter ball style. They had the other half of those guys in the same lockers in the hallway outside.

Something else that’s a little different is that instead of having everything in the showers — towels, soap, all the toiletries — now each person has his own toiletries bag, body wash, shampoo, deodorant, towels, everything.

Every day you go to shower and you see three or four bottles of body wash that guys forgot to bring to their lockers. There’s at least five or six that always forget their towels in the bathroom.

We also don’t have access to the video room. Everyone this year will have videos on their phones.

And, obviously, traveling is the big test we haven’t faced yet. I’m definitely interested in seeing how that goes. What happens if someone tests positive in Seattle or Texas? Do we have to drive alone to Los Angeles? That would be tough.

But everyone knows we have to be careful. We can’t do anything stupid. We hope that everyone respects not only the players and teammates, but all the players’ families and everyone who could be put in danger.

It’s an adjustment period, but it’s nothing that impedes us from doing what we need to do to play baseball.

A few months ago, we didn’t think we would be here. The situation isn’t ideal, but we could be at home now doing nothing, quarantined without a paycheck. So, we should be grateful with the opportunity we have and do the best we can with it.





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