SYDNEY (AP) - Nothing like a long flight across the Pacific Ocean to help a guy overcome a fear of flying.
Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley doesn’t like to fly. Plain and simple. So when he was told by manager Kirk Gibson he was replacing the injured Patrick Corbin as the opening-day starter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, it was a classic good news-bad news situation.
An All-Star in 2012, Miley was 10-10 with a 3.55 ERA last year and was having a good spring training. But he wasn’t in the original traveling party.
“I was a little nervous about 16 hours trapped in a plane flying over here, but I pretty much had to do it,” Miley said Friday. “But there isn’t a train or anything else that runs here.”
There wasn’t a particular incident that caused him to dislike flying.
“I remember thinking when I was younger that I’d never get in one of those things,” Miley said. “But there’s zero avoidance playing baseball.”
He stressed that it was nothing personal about Australia, or Sydney. He’s enjoyed seeing the sights, checking out the casino, and even watching one of the country’s most popular sports - cricket. He’s had a few conversations about cricket with Diamondbacks reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith, an Australian native.
“I’ve been watching it every single night before I go to bed, trying to figure out what is going on,” Miley said. “What is a wicket. What is happening? I’m getting it a bit more, but it’s tough.”
Not as tough as having to put up with a season’s full of plane rides.
“When the last game of the year is over, I get in my vehicle and drive 22 hours across the United States, and I don’t fly again until I have leave again for spring training,” said Miley, who lives in Loranger, La.
Miley said he often “squeezes the armrest” during flights “to help the pilots fly.” He suspects he has teammates who dislike flying as much as he does - “but they might not show it as much as I do.”
“Oh yeah, Wade and I had a long discussion on my ranch last fall about flying,” Gibson said Friday. “I filled him in on several facts. He understands flying is safe when you look at it, safer than what he does every day … The bumps bother him a little bit, but he slept virtually the whole way over, so I don’t think it bothered him too much.”
Regardless of which way the game goes on Saturday night - as the starting pitcher for the home team, he’ll have the honor of throwing the first pitch of the new season. But after the game, he’ll have something else on his mind.
“Now,” he said, “I’m starting to get nervous about the flight home.”