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Scenes from an Offseason, Volume 5

And now begins the long cold winter of the offseason.

Tom Szczerbowski

SCENE: The training room at Target Field. The door is both barred and padlocked - from the outside. Going inside the room, we see that several players are locked inside. They don't seem to have any entertainment except a couple of old baseballs and a well-thumbed copy of the October issue of Baseball America. Two are lying on the floor. One is flipping a baseball into the air. The others are sitting, backs against the wall, looking haunted.

There is silence.

COLE DE VRIES: So when do you think they're going to let us go home?

SAMUEL DEDUNO: I don't know, Cole. I never know. You ask that question FORTY TIMES A DAY AND NOBODY KNOWS.

DE VRIES: Sorry.

There is silence.

DE VRIES: Do you think we're being punished?

LIAM HENDRIKS: Cole, we've been locked in here for a month. I think it's a pretty safe bet we're being punished.

DE VRIES: Really? Gosh.

There is silence.

DE VRIES: Hey, P.J., did you -


DE VRIES: Liam says we're being punished.

NICK BLACKBURN: Shut up, Cole.

(/a slot in the door slides open)

SCOTT DIAMOND (speaking quickly and furtively): Hey, guys. I managed to give Rick the slip. You guys holding up okay?

BRIAN DUENSING: No we are not holding up! We've been locked in this room for a month to "think about our crimes!" We haven't seen our families since September! IT SMELLS LIKE A FARM IN HERE BECAUSE YOU KEEP FEEDING US GRAVY-COVERED FRENCH FRIES WITH CHEESE CURDS!

DIAMOND: Sorry! That's all we ever learned how to make in Canadian home ec!

ESMERLING VASQUEZ: We just want to go home. We want to get on with our lives.

DIAMOND: Coach Anderson says he won't let you go until you confess your (he makes finger-quotes) "crimes against pitching." And he won't tell me where he keeps the keys to this room.

DUENSING: What does he want us to confess? That we couldn't get anybody out this year? Tell us, you're suddenly the teacher's pet around here.

DIAMOND: Hey, don't get mad at me! It's not so great out here, either! The Leafs are locked out so now I have to watch the Marlies instead. The Marlies, Brian! They're barely a substitute!

DE VRIES: I like hockey, too! (He is punched by two other pitchers.) Ow...

Footsteps are heard in the hall.

DIAMOND: Oh, crap, I hear Rick coming. I gotta go, guys. I'll try to bring you some more reading material later today. I'm sorry.

The slot in the door snaps shut. There is silence.

DE VRIES: So when do you think we get to go home?


SCENE: A conference room at Target Field. Scott Ullger sits at the table, staring off at something we can't see. The door opens, and Ullger stands up as Jerry White enters the room.

ULLGER: Jerry, thanks for coming. I'm sorry we had to meet under these circumstances.

WHITE: No, no, don't worry. I'm sure I'll land on my feet somewhere, and I'm glad you called - I want to do everything I can to make this transition as smooth as possible.

ULLGER: I'm glad. I'm really looking forward to learning anything you can teach me about coaching first base.

WHITE: Sure. All right. (He takes a deep breath.) Now, when a third baseman kicks a routine grounder and the ball hops away, here's how I like to point to second base.

He drops into a half-crouch, and points urgently at the head of the conference table.

ULLGER: Okay, right.

WHITE: Got it? Okay. Now hold this for a second.

He hands Ullger a pair of batting gloves.

WHITE: Okay, good job. Well, I think that's it.

ULLGER: That's it, what?

WHITE: That's it for first base coaching.

ULLGER: That's it?

WHITE: No, hang on, I'm forgetting something. BACK! (He pauses thoughtfully) Yep, okay, I think that's everything now. Good luck, Scott. You're going to need it.

ULLGER: Uh... thanks. I think.

White leaves. Ullger stares after him, then realizes that he is still holding the batting gloves. He looks at them, then pauses briefly, as if to call out after White, but before he can speak it dawns on him that his ability to hold batting gloves are now the thing that's keeping him employed. He looks lost in thought - whether crushed or simply confused, we cannot tell.