By now, just about everyone in the world with a TV set has seen the Game 4 highlights from the NBA Finals of a worn down, exhausted LeBron James being helped off the court and wincing in pain as the muscles in his legs cramped up.
Marlins catcher John Buck got a taste of exactly what that felt like himself Wednesday night in Boston. Although Marlins fans saw the highlights of Buck grabbing his right hamstring and limping around the bases during a seventh inning home run, they probably have no idea the agony the 31-year old veteran went through after he was finally pulled out of the game two innings later in a 15-5 blowout loss to the Red Sox.
"It was probably the most pain I've ever felt," Buck said. "I just was cramping up everywhere. My lats were cramping up. My hands. My feet.
"I ended up having to get help undressing because I couldn't bend. I'd bend over my back would pop out. My partner in crime [Brett Hayes] literally had to undress me. Good friend and good teammate. It used to be just good teammate. Now, it's good friend."
Buck said because there were no IVs [intravenous therapy] inside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway he was drinking soy sauce out of packets.
"The Red Sox actually sent over some packets that I was eventually able to put in water and drink," Buck said. "But it took about two hours once I got the hotel room to start feeling better. I went to lay down in my bed and my back locked up, I cramped... it wasn't a good feeling."
After sitting out Thursday's game, Buck is back in the starting lineup for the Marlins Friday against the visiting Blue Jays. He said facing Toronto ace Ricky Romero, who Buck caught for during his one season in Toronto in 2010, won't be easy.
"If I take some bad swings, I won't feel so bad," Buck said. "He's a tough pitcher. The two seamer, the four seamer that cuts in on righties are good. The pitch that really stands out to me is his changeup. He'll throw it to left-handers, right-handers in any count. It's filthy, almost like a split finger with movement. It has a way to be hard with different speeds. He throws a hammer, too. He can go out at you a lot of different ways. Also, he's fearless, goes after you. That type of pitcher goes deep into games."
> Emilio Bonifacio, who had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb at the end of May, took approximately 25 right-handed swings Friday -- the first time he's picked up a bat in more than a month. The switch-hitting, Opening Day center fielder said he'll swing off the tee for the first time on Monday and then be reevaluated by a doctor Tuesday. He said he thought remains he'll back by the All-Star Break next month.
"For me, I wish I could be back out there tomorrow," Bonifacio. "But they don't want to rush it. Everything looks good."
> Manager Ozzie Guillen and hitting coach Eduardo Perez spent about an extra hour before Friday's game at Marlins Park trying to work with the struggling Hanley Ramirez on his swing.
"I tried to help him clean some stuff up," Guillen said. "Hanley’s been thinking a lot, he’s having a very bad month, just like everybody else. I tried to get him better and I tried to get him not to think too much and hopefully that helps."
> ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, a Rays season ticket-holder, took a special tour of Marlins Park before Friday's game and came away impressed. But don't expect him to buy any tickets.
"They tell me it's $400 a seat," Vitale said referring to the seats right next to the Marlins bench behind home plate. "I don't which of you guys is good at math, but at 80 games that's $32,000 a seat and times four that's $128,000. My four seats in the first row that touch the dugout in Tampa cost me about $19,000."
Vitale, in town for a event with the V Foundation for cancer research, had nothing put praise for the Heat, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and James after winning the NBA title Thursday night. Vitale said he expects James, the league and Finals MVP, to "only get better and better and better."
> Blue Jays (35-34): 1. Brett Lawrie 3B, 2. Colby Rasmus CF, 3. Jose Bautista RF, 4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B, 5. Kelly Johnson 2B, 6. Yunel Escobar SS, 7. Rajai Davis LF, 8. J.P. Arencibia C, 9. Ricky Romero P.
> Marlins (33-36): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Justin Ruggiano CF, 5. Omar Infante 2B, 6. Austin Kearns LF, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. John Buck C, 9. Anibal Sanchez P.