Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez sat at a table in the IronPigs clubhouse on a rain-soaked day, awaiting their turn to take indoor batting practice in the cage with pitching coach Ray Burris. The Phillies game was on the television, and they looked up sporadically from their card game and buffalo wings to watch their former teammates, before being brought back to the Lehigh Valley by shouts and laughs from inside the locker room.
Not long ago, they were both in Philadelphia, and almost two months ago to the day-June 1 against Milwaukee-both Galvis and Hernandez fulfilled a shared dream that they had been talking about since their Little League days in Venezuela more than a decade ago.
That day, the pair of 23-year olds trotted onto the infield together in the major leagues for the first time ever. Galvis was at short, and Hernandez at second.
"That's one of the dreams," Galvis said. "That he plays second and I play short in the same game."
"We always talked about it," Hernandez said. "It was a dream that happened."
It was just that one day. The next time Galvis was in at short, Hernandez had been optioned back down to Lehigh Valley to play every day, and Galvis followed him soon after. But that one time was enough for now. It symbolized the culmination of a long journey that the two shared together, and also symbolized the beginning of what could be long career for the both of them as the Phillies double play combination.
Galvis and Hernandez met a little more than 10 years ago. They were hardly teenagers, growing up in different parts of Venezuela-Galvis in Punto Fijo, and Hernandez in Valencia-when baseball brought the two together.
"Little League…When we were 12 or 13," Galvis said. "We played against each other. He played for his town and I played for my city, and that was how we met. I think the first time we played together he stayed at my house when he came to my city. When I went to his city to play I stayed at his house. After a few years playing against each other, we just became friends."
"We became very close," Hernandez added.
They became even closer a few years later, when both began working out for Philadelphia at the Phillies Academy in Venezuela. They ended up being signed by the Phillies on the same day.
"July 2," Galvis said with a smile. "That's when we signed. At that point we just wanted to sign with the same team and the next year or something like that we were like all right, let's do work and try to play together in the big leagues."
The beginning of their careers started in two different places.
"I came here [to the USA] before [Cesar]," Galvis said. "We signed in 2006, and in 2007 I came here to the U.S.A. and he stayed in the Phillies Academy for like two years."
"I contacted him every week," Hernandez said.
In 2009, Galvis was already playing at Double-A Reading when Hernandez came to the States from Venezuela to begin playing with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. Galvis, who had played in the country for two years by then, immediately sought out his friend and helped him with the transition to playing and living in the United States.
"I gave him some advice," Galvis said. "When I talked with him I told him about almost everything here in the U.S.A. It's tough for a young kid to come here not speaking the language."
"He helped me a lot," Hernandez admitted. "On the field and off the field. He helped me adjust when I went up."
It took about four years from the time Hernandez came over for him to play alongside his friend Galvis. Until that day in June with the Phillies, the two never played an inning together as a double play combination. When Hernandez was with Clearwater, Galvis was with Reading. When Hernandez was promoted to Reading, Galvis was with the Phillies.
Then, all of the sudden they were a tandem at the highest level; at the level every young player talking with his Little League friends dream about. At the level Galvis and Hernandez dreamed about in Valencia and Punto Fijo ten years ago.
It was only one game, but it didn't matter. They both savored every bit of the moment. And they continue to savor playing together now as they play with Lehigh Valley, working back to that ultimate goal that they got a taste of just a couple of months ago.
"It's like playing with your brother," Galvis said. "You have to have fun. Every time we play together, do that combination, we have a lot of fun."
"We had a dream to play together at short and second and set a lot of good double plays, like Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar," Hernandez said with a smile. "That's the dream, you know?
That's the dream, now they are living it.