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Yankees will get to spend a full week in Chicago

A fan takes a photograph with his cell

A fan takes a photograph with his cell phone outside of Wrigley Field before the Chicago Cubs take on the Mets on April 22, 2008 in Chicago. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Daniel

Following Sunday afternoon's doubleheader, the Yankees head to Chicago for a road trip that players are excitedly calling the closest thing to a homestand on the road.

They'll play six games against the Cubs and White Sox in seven days, all while staying the entire week in their same downtown hotel.

What in the name of Harry Caray is that all about?

The Yankees' week-long stay in Chicago is actually, to them, a welcome quirk of the Major League Baseball schedule, something that happens every so often in cities that house two teams thanks to the Houston Astros' move to the American League last season.

Now that there's an interleague series taking place effectively at all times, it's possible for a team to spend a week in New York, Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles while playing consecutive series against the Yankees and Mets, Cubs and White Sox, Giants and A's or Dodgers and Angels.

Last September, for example, the Giants came to New York for a full week to face the Yankees and Mets, and now the Yankees will experience the same thing in Chicago.

They'll play the Cubs at Wrigley Field, 5 miles north of their hotel, on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon followed by four games against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, 6 miles south of the hotel.

And the Yankees players, especially the veterans who are so used to the pattern of three-day stays in name-the-road-city and moving on to the next city, are understandably pumped about laying down some roots in Chicago, relatively speaking.

"I'm looking at it like it's a chance to move in, like a homestand on the road,'' closer David Robertson said. "The way our schedule is like anyway, you're never home for more than nine or 10 days so you're constantly unpacking and then packing your bags.

"Seven days in one city? That's welcome.''

Many players say they are bringing their families with them on this trip, taking advantage of a chance to spend some rare extended time on the road with them. The Yankees are slated to arrive in Chicago tonight -- ahead of tomorrow's off-day -- and they'll be in the same hotel until they head to St. Louis next Sunday night.

"Once we get in Sunday night, we'll literally be able to settle in,'' said Ben Tuliebitz, in his eighth season as the Yankees' traveling secretary. "You're talking about a group that is used to living out of a suitcase and spending two or three days in a city and now it's like we get to establish a residence in one place for a whole week.''

Tuliebitz is especially looking forward to Wednesday afternoon's game against the Cubs, the second game of the two-game series at Wrigley.

That typically would be a travel day for the team, meaning that after they play they get dressed into suits, head to the airport, go through security on the runway and -- usually within 90 minutes of the final pitch -- are in the air making their way to the next road city.

Not this Wednesday. Instead, they'll head back to the hotel after the game, where many players say they'll meet up with their families and make their evening plans.

Speaking of plans, a week in Chicago should also be enough time for former White Sox reliever Matt Thornton to empty a storage bin that he says his wife filled with things from his home there after the White Sox traded him to the Boston Red Sox last summer.

This will be the first time back to Chicago for Thornton, who spent parts of eight seasons with the White Sox. Besides that bit of housekeeping, he's also looking forward to making it back to some of his favorite breakfast spots in the city.

The trip also will be Alfonso Soriano's first time back at Wrigley since the Cubs traded him last summer. But while Soriano is looking forward like everyone else to a week in the city, he is having a hard time envisioning himself as a visitor at Wrigley.

"It's emotional to go back, but at the same time it's weird,'' Soriano said. "To play against my old team, I don't like that. But it's part of my job, you know.''

Short of spring training, Soriano can't remember spending a week in a road city. Being that it's his former home city -- he said he sold his home in January -- he expects to be a popular source for his teammates as they search for ways to spend their free time.

"I know all the restaurants,'' he said with a smile. "I'm sure a couple of players here will want me to show them what the good restaurants are in Chicago.''

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