Oh, the Places You'll Go

Baseball's freshman class is still adjusting to life in the big leagues
July 03, 2005

TADAHITO IGUCHI, 2B, White Sox
AFTER PLAYING for eight seasons in his native Japan, the 30-year-old Iguchi is hitting .287 with 32 RBIs for first-place Chicago. "What I enjoy the most," he says through a translator, "is facing the top players in the world." But he hasn't gotten used to American cuisine yet, which leaves him constantly searching for a taste of home. "When we go on the road, I'm always looking for a Japanese restaurant," he says. "So I may actually be eating more sushi here than I did in Japan."

NICK SWISHER, RF, A's
"I NEVER knew you had to tip the guy who gets you the cab and opens the door for you," says Swisher, 24, of adjusting to first-class hotels. "You have to tip the bellman, even if you bring your bags to the lobby. You basically have to tip everybody." Swisher, who is batting .246 with 31 RBIs, has also learned that style matters. "I went to this restaurant in Cleveland, and I didn't know how nice it was. I was wearing jeans and cowboy boots. They put [me and my girlfriend] in the corner away from everybody else."

RYAN CHURCH, OF, Nationals
FOR CHURCH, who leads Washington regulars with a .325 average, interacting with opposing fans has been a whole new ball game. "They'll call you pretty much everything but your last name," he says. "They can dog me all they want, tell me I suck and I should go back to the minors. Sometimes I feel like taking off my glove and giving them a motion like, 'Here, you come do it!' But it fuels me. A lot of the stuff is funny. I'll throw a ball over to them and tell them, 'Hey, it's all good.'"

WILLY TAVERAS, CF, Astros
"WHEN I realized I could talk and share experiences with a 300-game winner like Roger Clemens, that was amazing," says Taveras, who despite a .279 average and a team-high 17 stolen bases feels the pressure to perform. "When you struggle in the minors, they understand you're still learning. In the majors you have to produce or they'll demote you." But the Show isn't always so tough. "In the minors you're on buses for nine hours. Here you don't have to go on a bus except on your way to the airport."

COLOR PHOTOMARK J. TERRILL/AP (IGUCHI)TADAHITO IGUCHI, 2B, White Sox COLOR PHOTOLARRY GOREN/ICON SMI (SWISHER)NICK SWISHER, RF, A's COLOR PHOTOTONY FIRRIOLO/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (CHURCH)RYAN CHURCH, OF, Nationals COLOR PHOTO JOSH MERWIN/BEIMAGES (TAVERAS)  WILLY TAVERAS, CF, Astros

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)