Pedal pushers

ROCH AROUND THE CLOCK

Several players get exercise, save gas by using 2 wheels to get to the ballpark

On Bicycling Orioles

July 08, 2008|By ROCH KUBATKO

Jeremy Guthrie has played on two major league teams. Nobody except him rode a bicycle to the ballpark when he pitched for the Cleveland Indians. It seems as if half the Orioles team gets around on two wheels and a handlebar.

Guthrie definitely has come to the right place.

Fans are accustomed to the players' lot being filled with expensive rides - sports cars, HUVs, private jets. But you should check out the clubhouse sometime, or the weight room. There are enough bikes parked there to hold the Tour de France. I keep waiting for players to change into yellow jerseys, though that honor probably should be delayed until they're in first place.

At last count, the cyclists include Guthrie, Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff, Brian Burres, Garrett Olson and Lance Cormier. Nick Markakis dropped out after buying a house in Monkton.

The Orioles might be the only team that has more use for a bike rack than a bat rack.

Adam Loewen still makes the occasional ride from Canton, though the distance to and from his new place, and his new relief role, have removed some of the convenience.

"For me, it's a bit of a marathon," he said before Sunday's game. "And now that I could pitch at any time, I don't want to tire myself out."

Unfortunately, that's no longer a problem. Loewen is expected to be placed on the disabled list again after experiencing sharp pain in his left elbow. Pedal away.

Guthrie rides to Camden Yards six days a week during long homestands. The exception is Sundays, when his wife drops him off after they attend church in the morning. He has maintained that routine at every level of professional baseball, including his days at Triple-A Buffalo, when the trip covered 10 miles. But it was a one-way journey. His wife would pick up Guthrie and the bike for the ride home.

"I rode when it was sub-40 degrees," he said. "It's actually better. You don't sweat as much."

On occasion, a fan will recognize Guthrie as he pedals to Camden Yards. "Maybe once every three or four days, someone will say, 'Hey, Jeremy, good game,' and I'll give them a wave," he said.

If it's raining hard, Guthrie walks home after a game, but a light shower won't knock him off his bike.

Traveling on two wheels instead of four also is healthier, as long as you don't end up under a moving bus, as Brady Anderson once did while in-line skating.

"There are some side benefits," Guthrie said. "It's the overall idea of being outside and exercising instead of driving. I hate cars, I hate driving, I hate doing something I don't have to do. For me to drive downtown is a waste of gas; it's a waste of my time. I can ride faster than I can drive."

None of the other Astros rode bikes when Scott played for Houston, "but that's because everyone lived so far away," he said.

"Here, most guys live close, and it's foolish to drive in this city with this traffic. It's a joke. Sometimes, when you've got a lot of people here, just to go a mile and a half takes 30 minutes, sometimes more. It's atrocious. If I drive here, I get on the [exercise] bike here to loosen up. When I ride my bike, I get here faster and I'm already loose."

Scott has the perfect route from the ballpark. He hops on a bike trail from Light Street, around the Inner Harbor, to Pratt Street, cuts past Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and reaches his doorstep in six or seven minutes if he's being leisurely, four or five if he's in a hurry.

"I don't get much exposure to traffic," he said.

Thanks to the Orioles, their fans at Camden Yards don't get as much exposure to carbon monoxide. The team might not be baseball's best, but at least it's environmentally conscious.

"I'm trying to save the planet," Guthrie said, "one pedal at a time."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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