SCENE: Mid-morning in the Target Field clubhouse. The low hum of the refrigeration unit on the ice machine is the only sound, except for a few faraway, muffled voices from outside the door. We hear footsteps in the corridor, and then the door swings open. JOE MAUER, who is walking backwards in the manner of a college tour guide, is trailed by JAMEY CARROLL and JASON MARQUIS.
MAUER: So this, uh, this is the clubhouse. This is where we put on our, uh, uniforms and stuff. Some guys really like playing the video games over there (he waves a hand in the direction of the training room, which is the opposite of where the video games are, a mistake that momentarily renders him speechless.) I, uh... yeah.
MARQUIS: Joe, we're veterans, we've seen a clubhouse before.
MAUER: I'm sorry. (tears well in his eyes) Cuddy used to do the tours, but he's in Denver now. And Justin was supposed to do the tour today but his wife made him go see "Disney On Ice" instead.
CARROLL (examining an unfamiliar object in the corner of the clubhouse): What's this?
MAUER: Um... a computer?
CARROLL: What's a computer? Is that one of them new-fangled gizmos you can get a newspaper on?
MAUER: I don't know. Mom says the newspaper is full of bad news and I shouldn't read it until I'm married or thirty.
CARROLL: It's just as well. I only like it for the sudoku, anyway. That and seeing what that Mark Trail is up to. I liked the comics better back in the day when they were all like Mark Trail - none of these newfangled animals talking or anything like that. And no funny stuff.
MAUER (turning to Marquis): So, I guess you'll be wanting to know where to get some good pasta, huh? Or some (he screws up his face to try to pronounce this) linguini? Mom says I shouldn't eat Italian food because it'll make me get lazy and grow a mustache, but I guess you guys must be used to it.
MARQUIS: What? Why would I want to get Italian food?
MAUER: Aren't you Italian? (waves hands around like a bad caricature) That's-a spicy meatball-a! I like-a da pasta! It's-a me, Mario! The Sopranos-a! No?
MARQUIS: Dude, I'm from Staten Island, and I'm Jewish.
MAUER: Shhh! You can't say that! If the press hears us talking like that, it'll be some kind of scandal.
MARQUIS: What? Joe, I'm Jewish. It's not a slur.
MAUER: Well, I'm sorry, but that just doesn't sound right.
MARQUIS (sighs): Oh boy.
MAUER (assumes tour guide voice again): Through this door is the field. That's where we play the games and take batting practice and stuff. Though there's a cage over there (he waves his hand at the video games, getting again momentarily distracted), if you, uh, if you want to hit there...
CARROLL: Gonna be a long season.
SCENE: The manager's office. Ron Gardenhire sits behind his desk, as well as behind a makeshift desktop partition of his own devising, which is constructed out of empty three-ring binders, a coffee can, and an unplugged lamp that's missing a shade. We can see that on Gardy's desk are a half-empty bottle of screw-top gin, a Styrofoam coffee cup with "GARDY" scratched on the side, a half-eaten orange, and a deck of cards that is currently in use in a game of solitaire.
GARDY (mumbling): Red nine... red nine... come on, red nine.... DAMN! (He flips over the discard pile and starts again) Red nine... red nine....come on.... come on.... DAMN! (He flips over the discard pile and starts again.)
There is a knock at the door.
GARDY (poking his head out to the side of his partition): What? What? Kinda busy in here.
RICK ANDERSON (from the doorway): Hey, I just checked the mail. We got a letter from Francisco Liriano down in the Dominican.
GARDY: Oh, right. Come in, come in. He clears the desk by pushing the lamp aside and knocking all of the binders to the floor. Just doing a little bit of research here.
ANDERSON: Uh.... right. Why don't I read this out? (Reading) 'Dear Manager Gardy and other mean guy, have arrived in Escogido. Pitched in one game. Umpires just as mean as they are in America. Tried throwing fastball but it was way too awesome and the umpire wouldn't call it a strike. Went back to throwing nothing but sliders. Struck out two guys, so I still got it. Ready for the season. I think a couple of guys might have got hits too. I cannot really remember that part. Excited about the strikeouts, though."
ANDERSON: I'm not sure our little talk rubbed off on him.
GARDY (proffering the bottle): Want some gin?
ANDERSON: How do you think I got through this last year?
They drink, pensively, in silence.