You show up for work, but don’t go to work right away, until your boss calls your name, and you have to be ready. That’s the life of a baseball bullpen, as seen at Rivets Stadium, home of Rockford’s Northwoods League team.
Before first pitch, the field has to be ready. The players have to be ready, especially the bullpen. They have to be ready, at a moment’s notice.
"Being on my toes, I’m used to it, ready for the call at any given time," says Rivets reliever and Forreston graduate Nathan Schneiderman.
There’s the pregame routine, the anthem, and then the bullpen settles in.
"You know you kinda have to be locked in, gets easy to get complacent and not pay attention," says Ottawa Marquette graduate and Rivets reliever Evan Snyder.
The relievers provide in-game predictions, and instant reaction to the action.
"We shoot the stuff with each other quite a bit, we joke around, nothing serious," says Rivets reliever and Rockford Christian graduate Nolan Gazouski.
Topics during the game cover a wide range of areas.
"I haven’t had a conversation that has made much sense or had any real world relevance at all," Snyder says.
"A lot of other stuff we talk about – a lot of Fortnite, big Fortnite guys. Talk about that in the outfield. Always relaxed talk out there," says Schneiderman.
The relief corps is together a lot.
"Brings a family atmosphere to the bullpen, I believe," Schneiderman adds.
They also wave off criticism of their work load.
"We play catch and sit there but we have an important role. Big situations, need to get a couple outs," Gazouski says.
When the starter is removed, their name is called to close the door.
"When you go out there, you have to know he trusts you and that’s why you’re there and you get the job done," Gazouski says.
Rockford Rivets relievers, they stay read. Striking up a conversation during the game, and then when called upon, fire strikes to record those precious final outs.