Most of us are here now, but not everyone. There are always one or two guys who have visa problems and can't get into the United States for the start of camp, which always makes me wonder when they applied for their visas. Didn't they know they were supposed to be here by now? Couldn't they/their agents have timed it better and built delays into their timelines?
It bugs me because I consider being late irresponsible. This is your job. If you were late for your middle management job at a service company or your paid-by-the-hour union job at an auto plant, you'd get docked pay and also warned not to do it again. But even then, you were probably late by 15 minutes or, at worst, an hour. These guys will miss days. I was here one day early, which worked out because if I'd tried to arrive on time I would've been late because we had a snowstorm back home, cancelling flights.
Felipe Castro isn't here yet, but that's excusable. His mother was kidnapped more than two months ago and he's doing what he can back home in Venezuela to help. I understand the team is trying to tow the line between being understanding and demanding one of their star players just come up and let the authorities down there deal with the situation. But even if they forced him up here before his mother was found, I doubt he'd be any good. My opinion is he'd be so worried about her and mad at himself for being here that he'd be too guilty to be effective on the ballfield. I'm sure the team is thinking he'd probably like to be here to get his mind on something else. I don't know the answer. You'd have to speak to the man directly to find out what's best, and that's not something I have done (nor been asked to do). I'm sure Rick would like me to keep out of it. Okay then, I'm keeping out.
Another surprising sight here is the number of guys who show up out of shape. This isn't 1955 where the guys have to take winter jobs to pay the bills and there's no time to work out. We get paid plenty - even the rookies get a minimum of over $300,000 for the year (on top of their signing bonuses). There's no reason why we can't show up at the proper weight and with the proper attitude. Now, it's true that in November my resume had the word "fat" in front of "and balding," but that was two months ago. I got my act in gear and came to camp at the weight I needed to be at. My elbow isn't where it should be, but the rest of me is. I'm resigned to the fact that I'll probably start the season in AAA Nashville, and that's okay. By May I should be up with the club and winning games for them, just like the old days.
Because of who I am, there's discussion between my super agent, Jack Perry, and the team about my living and travel arrangements with Nashville. If I'm pitching once every five days, Jack says, I should be able to spend the other three to four days in New York, sleeping in my own bed and working out at the stadium in front of trained team eyes. The team wants me to live in Nashville and come to New York when they call. Since they don't even want me in camp to begin with (I'm told we'll have a judgement on my grievance next Monday) so insurance can pay my salary, they don't want me in New York anytime soon. They'd like me to stay in Nashville full time and help their AAA guys, many of whom are guys who've spent time in the big leagues and don't want my help to begin with. Anyway, that's just one more negotiation Jack has had to perform on my behalf with the team over the last few months. I'm hoping it's the last.
Jack's other clients (a couple are my teammates) are getting aggravated at the amount of time he's spending on me vs. time for them. Add to that negative feeling more negative feelings by teammates about my blogging so openly. You should be able to sense I've come across a little bit of quiet hostility from various corners of the locker room. I haven't really ragged on anybody here by name (just Corey Belle, and that was in response to public comments he made about me), but there is concern that I will. There is concern that I am, or soon will, break the sanctity of the clubhouse; that I'll spill the beans; that I'll snitch to the principal that Tommy stole Gary's milk money. I saw it! He did it! I swear!
Quite frankly, most of the guys haven't spent more than two seconds thinking about what I'm doing here. My pals in the media think about it a lot and let their feelings be known to more than just each other. Osmosis isn't always my friend. In this case, various reporters are influencing opinions about my goals with this forum. I'm not here to tell the warden there's going to be a breakout. But I will describe how the breakout went down after it happens. Why not? This ain't national security we're talking about. It's baseball. Show up and play. That's all anybody asks. And that's all I really ever wanted to do.