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The Prodigal Starter: An Insider Account of Kevin Slowey's Unlikely Return to the Minnesota Twins

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(SCENE: The home manager's office at Target Field. Twins manager RON GARDENHIRE is on the phone. He is speaking with General Manager BILL SMITH.)

SMITH: Ron, Baker's going to have to go back on the DL. The elbow just isn't right, we can't risk pushing it at this point.

GARDENHIRE: Yeah, yeah, alright. We'll just plug Swarzak in, then.

SMITH: Actually, Ron, we're going to go a different direction on this one.

GARDENHIRE: You're finally giving Gibson the call? I thought he was dinged up, too?

SMITH: No, not Kyle, either. We're g--

GARDENHIRE: Ohhh, I get it, we're just gonna have Blackie pick up his spot in the rotation. Suppose pitching on two days rest will get that sinker to drop.

SMITH: Ron, it's gonna be Slowey. We're calling up Kevin Slowey.

(GARDENHIRE laughs uproariously.)

GARDENHIRE: That's a good one, Bill. You should have just said we traded TC Bear and some bats for Timmy Lincecum, I would have believed that more.

SMITH: Not kidding, Ron. We need Swarzak to pick up the rest of the guys if they come up short again. It's Slowey.

(The phone line goes dead.)

***

(SCENE: Progressive Field visitor's clubhouse. KEVIN SLOWEY enters. JIM THOME greets him.)

THOME: Hey Kevin! How's things?

SLOWEY: Oh, you know, just been out in New York, working on my game, reading some Nietzche.

THOME: Nishi? He wrote a book? I'll be danged! Hey guys, did you know Nishioka wrote a book? How cool is that?

SLOWEY: No, Jim. Friedrich Nietzche. The German philosopher. He had a lot of important things to say about the human condition.

THOME: Good talking to you, Kevin! Keep your chin up!

***

(SCENE: Progressive Field visitor's dugout. GARDENHIRE is back on the phone with SMITH.)

GARDENHIRE: Hey, Bill, listen, is there anyone else down in Rochester who we can fly in here for Sunday? I don't think this Slowey thing is gonna work.

SMITH: What happened now?

GARDENHIRE: He met with Andy and I, and he handed both of us a cassette, said it was a peace offering.

SMITH: Like, a VCR tape?

GARDENHIRE: No, no, he made us mixtapes. Said the songs on there were his way of saying, "No hard feelings."

SMITH: Well, did you listen to it?

GARDENHIRE: Are you kidding? Who the hell has a tapedeck anymore? He said cassettes were making a comeback, a lot of the bands he was listening to now were only putting their music out that way. What in blazes is a Neutral Milk Hotel?

SMITH: You've got me.

GARDENHIRE: He was wearing a fedora, Bill. A FEDORA. I didn't sign up for this shit, Bill.

SMITH: Jesus. Where is he now?

GARDENHIRE: The guys saw the hat and taped him inside his locker stall. I tried to get them to lay off, but they were pretty into it... (His voice trails off.)

SMITH: Ron, is there something you're not telling me?

(The line goes silent.)

SMITH: Ron? What's going on, Ron?

GARDENHIRE: OK, Bill, you got me. When they ran out of tape, I sort of went over to Cleveland's training room and got more tape.

SMITH: (sighs) Is that it, Ron?

(The line goes silent again.)

SMITH: Ron?

GARDENHIRE: OK, OK, Bill, geez Louise. When we ran out of that tape, I took a cab to a Duane Reade and bought more tape. Are you done giving me the third degree? We'll go get some boxcutters and cut him out.

SMITH: Good. Let's never speak of this again.

***

(SCENE: Saturday morning, the waffle station at the Hilton Garden Inn's breakfast bar, downtown Cleveland. SLOWEY is in line with JOE MAUER.)

MAUER: Man, there's nothing like a hot, plain waffle to start your morning, huh?

SLOWEY: Still no butter or syrup for you, Joe?

MAUER: Are you kidding? We have a day game after a night game tomorrow! Sugar plus dairy just makes me antsy-pantsy.

SLOWEY: (under his breath) I will shake off every other pitch you call for the rest of my life.

MAUER: Plain!

***

(SCENE: Sunday afternoon, Progressive Field, Cleveland. Twins are about to take the field in the bottom of the first. "SLOWEY" takes the mound for his warm-up tosses. Crew Chief TIM WELKE immediately calls for GARDENHIRE to meet with him.)

WELKE: Gardy, what the hell is this?

GARDENHIRE: What do you mean?

WELKE: Why is Cuddyer pitching in a Kevin Slowey jersey?

GARDENHIRE: I don't know what you're talking about.

WELKE: Gardy. Come on. That's just Cuddyer with a curly wig and...is he smoking a clove cigarette?

GARDENHIRE: Yep, that's Slowey, he can't get enough of those cloves! Can't you see the Morrissey t-shirt under his uni? He loves that mopey bastard.

WELKE: I don't know what a Morrissey is, Gardy, but I'll call the game for Cleveland right now if you don't get Slowey out there.

GARDENHIRE: (sighs). Alright, alright. Say, you wouldn't happen to have a boxcutter on you, would you?