Cards' new dads praise hard work of mothers

Cards' new dads praise hard work of mothers

Cards' new dads praise hard work of mothers
ST. LOUIS -- There was a time, Kyle McClellan admits, when he regularly offered his wife, Bridget, a particular proposal.

"I used to tell her," McClellan said, "that if she could find a job and I could stay home, that would be great."

That was a mostly facetious request on McClellan's part, but one that nonetheless has been rescinded. Not only is McClellan quite content with his occupation, but he's learned over the past year that his wife doesn't have it so easy.

Nearly a year ago, the McClellans welcomed their first child, Olivia Grace, one week after Mother's Day. McClellan is one of four St. Louis players who became a father for the first time in the last year. That makes this Mother's Day a particularly special one for a select group of Cardinal wives and girlfriends.

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"It's not even close. Women have the toughest job, by far," said Shane Robinson, whose wife, Jessica, is now tending to a weeks-old baby girl named Tinley.

"I would never try to compare it to the baseball world," Robinson said. "It's really a full-time commitment. There is no moment to take off. You're on alert at all times. You never have that moment where you can just let your mind relax and get some kind of rest."

For the Robinsons, the transition has been a whirlwind. Without family nearby, the couple is adjusting to new sleeping patterns and fitting schedules around feedings. As timing would have it, the Cardinals were beginning a seven-day homestand the day after Tinley was born, so that did allow Shane Robinson the opportunity to assist.

Now, however, much of the work will fall on Jessica's shoulders.

"Obviously, I have to get some sort of sleep to perform well with my job, which she completely understands," Robinson said. "Now it's just the learning curve. The communication has to be at its best. I'm stressing to her that if she needs me, I'm here. It's not like I'm not getting up anyways when I hear her. I'm trying to be as helpful as possible and not trying to be too selfish with getting my rest."

Fernando Salas' girlfriend, Daniela, doesn't have the luxury of such assistance. She gave birth to a son, named after his father, during Spring Training, but is raising the boy in Mexico while Salas spends another baseball season in the U.S. Salas made a quick trip home to Mexico to be present for his son's birth, but since then, his only interaction with the younger Fernando has been through pictures and online videos.

"It's difficult for me because I can't see my kid and my girlfriend," Salas said. "Every time I talk to her she tells me how much he is growing. She has a lot of work with him there. They are doing good and I'm doing good, but it's difficult not to see them."

Salas is hopeful that his family will make a visit to St. Louis this summer. In the meantime, the task of raising his baby lies solely with Daniela.

"She does a great job," Salas added.

The McClellans' challenges aren't nearly as tough, largely because of how much nearby help they do have. Kyle McClellan, who was raised in a St. Louis suburb, has parents who are local. Bridget McClellan has family close by, as well. Not only has that allowed the couple to still manage some alone time, but it has also provided Bridget with plenty of support when her husband is on the road.

"A lot of times she feels like she's a single mom," McClellan said. "At least I have the benefit of playing here. That's huge for us."

Mother's Day won't be the only celebration going on at the McClellan household over the weekend. The family will be hosting Olivia's first birthday party as well. It's all tangible proof as to how much life has evolved over the past year.

"Our priorities have definitely changed," McClellan said. "The way we go about our day is not based around me and my wife. It's about our daughter, which is a big change after you've just been worried about yourself for 27 years."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.