I am so sick. Not the doctor's note, all day TV watching, toilet-hugging, people feeling sorry for me, oh my God he's passed out on the floor call 9-11, somebody get a lone scientist to research and find a cure before it's too late kind of sick. No, I can breathe through my nose, eat a horse and sleep all night without getting up to pee once. My problem is I'm sick of me. Here, in my trailer overlooking the Pepsi Field parking lot (and my security agent Andy's trailer), after my protege, 17 year old wunderkind Rey Marcos has left to return to his hotel room - alone - so he doesn't catch a venereal disease from some Nashville Hounds groupie, I reflect on my stay here in Nashville and feel sick.
I keep throwing up. That's my biggest problem. I keep throwing up.
The ball, that is.
The reason I'm here with the Hounds is to gain arm strength so I can pitch one inning a game 4 times a week. Oh, it would also be a help if, when I pitched, I could get batters out. My arm strength is good. I pitched three times last week and pitched Sunday and Tuesday so far this week. I'll pitch tonight, Wednesday, to satisfy the back-to-back days criteria, then pitch Friday or Saturday. There. I'm plenty strong. Take me back New York. I want to eat a horse and sleep in my own bed again.
I'm throwing up all the time. I stand on the mound, go into my windup (or motion, you choose your own word for it), and release the ball from my pitching hand. The ball should slither around in the air before landing at or below the knees of the batter.
The ball is landing in the parking lot, denting my trailer.
Because I keep throwing up.
For a pitcher, the "release point" is hugely important. Where the ball leaves the fingers makes all the difference between its dropping low or rising high. My ball keeps rising. It rises twice lately: Once when I release it and a second time when the batter hits it to Kingdom Come.
My record so far down here:
Innings Pitched: 4.2
Home Runs Allowed: 5
My ERA is actually 19.29 because the math equates to 19.2857142857. But I didn't want to round up after the .28. It's too depressing.
My health is fine. Really. There is no pain. I feel good in the locker room before the game. I feel good on the field before the game. I feel good sitting in the bullpen during the game. I feel even better warming up during the game. I feel good jogging out to the mound. Physically, I mean. Mentally, I feel horrible jogging out to the mound because the whole time I'm getting booed. That's stinky, to get booed. Yes, it's the minors but, man, who wants to get booed? But the jog keeps me loose and I feel great on the mound throwing my last warmup pitches.
As soon as the batter jumps into that box, I feel awful. I feel like throwing up (the puking kind here). Nerves, I tell myself. Just nerves. "You want it so badly, but just relax," a little voice says in my mind. I'm unsure whose voice it is, because mine is kind of high and whiny. This one is low and mature with a hint of debonair. I think it's George Clooney's voice. It's deep and sounds like the speaker has gray hair. Yeah, it's got to be Clooney. We've never met, but I hear he used to be a big fan. Of something. Probably not me. Because the voice doesn't relax me, I still want to throw up (the puking kind), and then I go into my motion (or windup, your choice) and let the ball leave my fingers.
There it goes. Don't break a window in my trailer.
Bobby Spencer is the New York pitching coach. He called me this morning and told me he's been watching film of me. "Everything's perfect," he said. "Your windup, or motion, depending upon how you want to describe it, is a-ok. Release point is fine. I think it's your arm slot that's giving you problems."
Oh, it's my arm slot.
An arm slot is the angle your arm flies through the air to help propel a baseball out of your fingers. He thinks my arm slot is too close to overhand. "You're at about 86 degrees," Bobby said. (He's a pure techno-geek.) "You want 77."
So tonight - whoa, wait a minute. Our game today is at noon!!! Let me rephrase. Today, sometime between noon and 3:00, I will try for a 77 degree arm slot. Maybe that will keep me from throwing up (the baseball kind).
Because if I don't fix this soon, I'm going to need to hug a toilet and throw up for real. This whole rehab process is starting to make me sick.