SARASOTA, Fla. — Cedric Mullins has participated in nearly a decade of spring trainings. He knows the daily grind and understands the toll that this time of year can take on his body.

But this year? Nothing could prepare him for this.

Mullins and his wife welcomed their first child, Maliah, two months ago. His car was stuffed with baby clothes, bottles and toys as he made the drive from Atlanta to Sarasota. Mullins made a few more stops along the way than he was accustomed to.

And, as his younger teammates are living together on the bay, spending their afternoons fishing and their nights playing games, Mullins is changing diapers and learning to cope with less sleep.

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“Very much less sleep,” he added.

Although this is Mullins’ first time going through a season with kids, his teammates know this challenge well. Baseball families move on average three times a year — from their home base to spring training, spring training to the regular season and regular season back to their home base — but that number goes up if a player switches teams midseason.

It’s a good problem to have — the players are living their dreams, and bringing their families along for the ride is a much better option than spending six months without them.

But it can also be a constant headache.

“I go two hours now without seeing him and I’m already missing him,” Yennier Cano said about his 15-month-old, Cristopher. “I told my wife, whenever we are able to make it work, I definitely want to make it happen.”

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For younger children, routines are everything and every move disrupts that. Austin Hays’ 3-year-old, Levi, and 2-year-old, Hayden, spent the offseason at their five-acre home. They had to leave behind their dog and, most importantly to Levi, his beloved remote-controlled gator car.

To Hays and his wife, Sam, there’s a logical explanation for why they can’t bring this giant toy. It simply didn’t fit in their car, and their yard in Sarasota doesn’t have the same space. But reasoning with a 3-year-old? Not an easy task.

Left fielder Austin Hays spends his off time during spring training with his wife and two young sons. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

“It’s hard,” Hays said. “They’ve only been alive for under three years. When you spend four months at home, that’s a pretty good portion of their lives so far that they’ve been around. Every routine we’ve had, their bath routine, and all of a sudden we just drive three hours and we’re here in spring training and you are trying to get them to go to bed in this room that’s strange to them.”

Careful considerations go into picking out their spring training housing. Hays and his wife always look for a spot near a park so the family can get out of the house while Hays is at the field in the morning. Cano opted to stay at his offseason home in Tampa this spring, commuting through Florida traffic, eliminating at least one of the moves he has to make this year. They will follow him on the road as much as possible this season, he said, so they wanted to avoid an additional disruption.

It gets even more complicated once they hit school age. James McCann — father to twin 6-year-olds — is having his children split time. They’ll spend 10 days in Sarasota, then 10 days back in Tennessee so they can attend kindergarten. They will continue this until the season starts. McCann and his wife will do their best to keep them on track with their schoolwork while they are away.

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“It’s a long process,” McCann said. “A lot of to-do lists and of checking things off the list.”

Most of these children, though, are strangely used to it. John Means’ 3-year-old, McCoy, knows he has a baseball house and a not baseball house. McCann’s twins can stay up until 2 a.m. after a night game and be ready for bed at 8 p.m. the next day so they can get up for school.

“They just have learned that when it’s time to go to bed it’s time to go to bed,” McCann said. “They do a really good job at adjusting. It’s not perfect, there’s no perfect solution to it, but they just roll with this lifestyle.”

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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