More than once this season, in the often quiet hours before games, Chicago White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease was spotted throwing around a disc.
This, by itself, was nothing unusual. Baseball players import different equipment from other sports all the time just to have some fun before games, screwing around with footballs, soccer balls, rugby balls and frisbees.
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But while this was fun for Cease, it definitely wasn't just screwing around. He is super into disc golf.
"I try to play as much as I can," Cease told NBC Sports Chicago last week. "My brother got me into it. ... I didn't like it at first because I was terrible at it. And then I kept going with him because it was just fun and I liked seeing how he shaped shots. And then I started getting into it more.
"This offseason, it was really warm, so I was able to play like four days a week. Back home (in Georgia), I'll do my lifting and all my yoga stuff, and in my free time, I'll go play as much as I can. I love it."
It's turned into something of an impressive side project for Cease, who has a giant collection of discs, a list of top players who send him swag and an appreciation of and from those in the disc-golf community.
"A lot of the disc-golf community's baseball fans," Cease said. "I'll buy a disc on ebay, and someone will message me like, 'Hey man, appreciate you growing the sport.' I'm like, 'Wow. OK, they recognize me.'"
If you're part of that community, or just enjoying a day outside, you might spot Cease and some other White Sox players playing in Chicagoland. Cease said that he's trying to get some of his teammates into the sport, too, with Lucas Giolito being receptive. He's played with Michael Kopech and Jimmy Lambert, too. He's hoping Dallas Keuchel will come out with him at some point.
Cease has played at local courses in the South Suburbs. But it's down around his hometown in Georgia where his favorite courses are.
"It's like a mountain course, almost," he said of his favorite north of Atlanta. "It feels like you're just in nature. And they've got a course that's got a big cave you throw into.
"I like the wooded ones. I like the ones where you feel like you're out in the middle of nowhere. ... Trees all over the place, you've got to throw through it. Good times."
Cease even went as far as playing a makeshift game on a make-it-up-as-you-go course at Progressive Field in Cleveland during the White Sox most recent road trip.
The day he was whipping discs around Guaranteed Rate Field wasn't that involved. He was just showing off. He could have fooled me, though, as I watched him land one through the doorway in the visitor's dugout.
It seemed like a hole in one. It turns out it wasn't quite so intentional.
"I was just throwing for distance, trying to show off here," he said. "I was nervous. I think if one of those hits somebody, I think that'd be trouble. So I was like, 'Man, I hope I didn't just nail somebody.'"
Cease said throwing discs at the ballpark is a great way to relax and get away from the intense focus on baseball required for players to do their job well. It sounded a lot like the description teammate Liam Hendriks gave of the benefits of his personal love of LEGOs last week.
It sounds like "LEGO Liam" and "Disc Golf Dylan" should be besties. Apparently, though, there's a bit of a friendly clubhouse rivalry brewing between the two hobbyists.
"He makes fun of me for disc golf, and I make fun of his LEGO stuff all the time," Cease said. "He'll say something along the lines of, 'Why don't you get your food with your disc?' And I'll be like, 'Why don't you build a LEGO plate for yours?'"
While he's working on the level of appreciation inside the clubhouse, Cease's interest and love of the sport has been appreciated outside of it. And as a result, he's grown his disc collection with the help of some of the sport's top players, Cease naming Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki and Garrett Guthrie as pros who have sent him discs. He's even got a sponsorship himself with a company that makes discs.
Cease wants his own signature disc one day. And that might happen if he follows through on some big plans to make a disc-golf YouTube channel. According to Cease, that will only happen if he keeps having the same kind of success on the mound he has to this point this season.
So more performances like his brilliant dismantling of the Detroit Tigers on Sunday — seven shutout innings, 10 strikeouts and only one walk to lower his season ERA to 3.36 — equal more disc-golf videos coming your way this winter.
"I might make a YouTube channel this offseason, we'll see," he said. "I just want to solidify myself here first. ... I just think it might be a bad look if I don't perform up to my expectations here and then go play disc golf.
"If I perform well here, I'll do it."
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