They are nearly inseparable. Johan Santana and Carlos Silva are good friends and great teammates. In a way, Silva is like Santana's younger brother. He idolizes the two-time Cy Young Award winner and listens to everything Santana has to say. It's a tight relationship.
"I got a lot of respect for him as a player," says Silva. "As a person and as friend because I know he's not going to push me to do bad things you know."
So when Santana suggested to Carlos let's ride bicycles from home to the ballpark, he did what any younger brother would do. He said yes.
The early morning rush in Fort Myers. As the sun comes up the fun begins.
On this day, Santana, Silva and rookie pitcher Oswaldo Sosa take off for Hammond Stadium.
It's a five-mile ride, a great warm up for the day's workout. And the first thing we notice are the outfits. Santana and Silva look official, almost Tour de France like. Silva admits finding a bike helmet to fit him took some two hours, but the look was all Johan's idea
"He paid for everything, he bought me clothes, he bought me everything," says Silva. "And the funny part was it was so hard to find a helmet for me. He told me to 'use the catcher's helmet, Mauer's helmet because that might fit you.' I almost wore that one, you know."
The adventure to find a bike helmet big enough for Silva was a running joke all morning.
For Santana, riding a bicycle is like going back in time. He says a bike used to be his main mode of transportation when he was young back in Venezuela.
"I used to, back in my hometown up in the mountains, we used to ride bikes," says Santana. "It was tougher, believe me. This is easy compared to what it's like back in my hometown."
Maybe that's why Johan spent time teaching Carlos bike safety tips.
About halfway through the ride, Sosa's bike breaks. The pedal comes off and we end up loading his transportation in our SUV. Now it's just Silva and Santana, and the fun continues.
Santana says sometimes a passing motorist will recognize him on the ride and honk, but for the most part, he and Silva ride in peace and enjoy the conversation.
This is a side of Santana few get to see.
The trip takes about 20-minutes and it doesn't end until the two ride their bikes right into the clubhouse. On this day, in full riding garb, they attract more attention than usual.
It's a part of spring training few fans will ever see especially since the two think twice about the ride back home.
Randy asks Silva, "You ride the bike here so how many times do you put the bike in the car because you're too tired to ride it home?"
Silva’s response, "Last year, spring training was like 45 days. Maybe about 40-times (laugh). Maybe about 40 times we called the house and said, please pick me up."
Santana and Silva started riding bikes to Hammond Stadium last year, and the year before that they tried their hand at golf. For Silva, there's never a dull moment with Santana.
"Last year he came with the bike, this year now he wanted to play bowling," says Silva. "Yesterday, they made a ball for us for bowling. I don't know what we're going to do next year. Every year it's something new. But that's fun, it's all part of the game."
(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)