…the young men made no attempt to hide their distraction. Glen Perkins, the young lefty, came off the mound after holding Norfolk to 1 run on 2 hits over 6 innings. He walked over to Matt Garza, who’d commandeered the remote control of the clubhouse TV, and asked: “So, how did Si…”
Garza cut him off in midsentence with raucous laughter: “You remember that Pat Travers’ song, the one my Dad used to sing to me when I’d get lit up in Little League?”
Kevin Slowey, who prides himself on his professorial grasp of things inside and outside of baseball, spoke up — or rather sang out — when he saw the blank look on Perkins’ face.
“BOOM! BOOM! OUT GO THE LIGHTS!” Slowey shouted, grabbing a bat from Matthew LeCroy’s locker and using it as a microphone.
“Hell, yeah,” Garza said.
“How bad was it?” Perkins asked.
“Eight runs, 10 hits, 5 2/3 innings.Two doubles. Two dingers. Down 5-nil after 2,” Garza recited in a clipped staccato that made each sentence fragment sound worse than the one before it. “Dude pitched like that Mike Smith guy from last year, right down to the bad hair. The only thing he had in common with Johan’s start on Sunday was that he threw the same number of pitches — 97.”
Perkins scoffed and spit in his glove. “Wonder if that bozo blogger from Section 220 thought Gardy should have kept Sidney in too.”
The pitchers laughed the derisive laugh they save for those who have more prowess with their keyboarding fingers than their throwing arms.
“I could tell it was bad,” said Scott Baker, who’d snuck an XM Radio into the bullpen so he could listen and tell the other guys what was going on. “Gordo was talking about a story he’d read on the Internet between innings and Gladden cut him off and said, ‘So that’s what you do when we get blown out?’ It was the second inning.”
“That bad, huh?” said Perkins, secretly relishing his excellent outing in Rochester’s 33-degree chill even more while fibbing out loud: “Really, I wanted Sidney to do well. He’s been through a lot and, well, you know…”
“I know something else,” said Baker, decided that telling all he knew was the only way to stop Perkins from spewing more BS. “There were a couple of plane tickets to Minneapolis on the clubhouse microwave. Saw ‘em when I went in to do Pilates with LeCroy.”
“Tickets!” Garza repeated excitedly. “For who?”
“Didn’t see,” Baker replied.
“Great job, Baker,” said Perkins, disgustedly. “It’s just like Gardy says about you. You show some promise and then you can’t finish anything off.”
The chatter ceased as the guys looked in their lockers, wondering how much time they would have to run home and pack if the Twins would be calling for them — if, in fact, the Twins had decided to cut off the Ponson experiment more quickly that anyone expected. They tried not to be obvious about it, but in trying so hard, they were giving themselves away.
Slowey broke the silence with a piece of news he’d picked up from the Blackberry he always carries in his high right sock (except on the days he pitches). “You guys hear that The Real Deal got picked by the Red Sox?”
“No effin’ way!” Garza replied. “He’s there and we’re here? Makes about as much sense as our Iraq pol…”
“NO POLITICS IN THE CLUBHOUSE, BOYS!” shouted LeCroy, who was amused by the conversation among the young pitchers, and a little happy inside because he’d gotten 2 hits in tonight’s game. The Pilates was helping his bat speed, just like Scott Ullger told him it would.
Just then, carrying their suitcases and the boxes of leftover matzah that a kindly fan had sent to the Red Wings’ Jewish players for Passover, Josh Rabe and Alexi Casilla walked through the clubhouse. Plane tickets were visible in their shirt pockets.
They were the ones flying to the Twin Cities to replace the injured veterans RonDL White and Jeff Cirillo.
The pitchers’ shoulders and spirits sagged.
LeCroy tried to be reassuring.
“Don’t worry, fellas. I caught Sidney a couple times in spring training,” the wise veteran said, trying to be reassuring. “I have a feeling it won’t be long for one or two of you.”
(*All resemblance to actual dialogue in the Rochester clubhouse is purely coincidental. All statistics cited in this report are purely true.)