On Friday, Cody Daily will fly to Arizona to train for the Chicago White Sox, making it the first time in his life that he will travel west of the Rocky Mountains.
“I’m looking forward to it,” the Granite City graduate said.
And Daily hopes to fly back to Illinois as a major league baseball player.
Daily will be training for the American League franchise in Glendale, Ariz., which is 10 minutes west of Phoenix. The White Sox share their spring training facility with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is Camelback Ranch. The White Sox moved there in 2009 after training in Tucson for many years.
“From what I heard, we’re going to be out there from 5:30 every morning and we’re not going to get done until late afternoon at 4 or 5 o’clock that night,” Daily said. “There will be very long days and it’s going to be tiring. The main goal is to stay healthy and try to stay positive through the whole thing. Obviously, baseball is a game of failure.”
Daily signed with the White Sox on Dec. 16, just five days after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
“To be able to get an opportunity to sign and play professional baseball, I couldn’t ask for anything else,” Daily said.
Daily said his father, Rick, was proud of him when he signed for the White Sox.
“My dad played pro ball for the Detroit Tigers,” Daily said. “He’s always been there and he was one of those guys who always influenced me in the game and made me want to make something out of it. He always taught me to work harder for something.”
A first baseman, Daily said he was influenced by Kirk Champion to sign for the White Sox.
Born in Granite City, Champion worked as the White Sox’s minor league pitching coordinator from 2003-2011 and the minor league field coordinator from 2012-2013.
Champion also was assistant coach at SIU-Carbondale in the late 1980s.
“Kirk called me and said you deserve the opportunity,” Daily said. “He was like, ‘I’m going to give you the opportunity. It’s up to you now to make something out of it.’ It’s kind of a dream come true almost.”
When he was in junior high, Daily attended a White Sox game against the New York Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field. He got to meet several Yankee players, including Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
“It was an awesome experience, especially being that age and looking up to those guys,” Daily said.
Now, Daily will get to train for a White Sox team that has won three world championships and six American League pennants.
“I feel great,” the 22-year-old Daily said. “I never felt as strong as I do right now and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Daily turned in an outstanding college baseball career. He played two years at Southwestern Illinois College and two at SIU-Carbondale.
At SIU-Carbondale, he hit .311 with eight home runs, 54 RBIs, 126 hits and 184 total bases.
In his senior season at Carbondale, Daily led the Salukis in hitting (.333), hits (70), doubles (17), triples (2), home runs (6), total bases (109) slugging percentage (.519) and on-base percentage (.422) and earned second-team all-Missouri Valley Conference honors.
“It was definitely quite an experience,” Daily said. “I thank all of my coaches and everyone who helped me along the way. It’s a dream come true to play Division I baseball then getting that experience to go to the next level. It’s a pretty unreal feeling almost. I met a lot of good people down here and met a lot of lifelong friends. I’ll never forget it down here. It’s a good time.”
Daily graduated from Granite City in 2010. In his senior year with the Warriors, he hit .306 with six home runs and 34 RBIs and helped the Warriors win their first regional championship in 16 years.
“It was a great high school experience,” Daily said.
Daily said Chris Janek has been a big help to him during his high school and college baseball careers. Janek, who was a former football and wrestling standout at Granite City during the 1990s, is the owner of Tank’s Training Facility in Granite City.
“Even when I started high school, I started working out with him,” Daily said. “I had never hit a home run in my life until I started working out with Chris down at his facility. He’s a great all around guy. He’s doing some big things down there.”
SIU-Carbondale head coach Ken Henderson said he’s happy to see Daily getting an opportunity to try out in the big league level.
"We are thrilled any time one of our players gets a chance to play at the next level and we are happy that Cody has earned this opportunity,” Henderson said. “I am confident he will be prepared and do a great job."