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Scenes From An Offseason, Volume 4

SCENE: The Target Field front office. A pleasant middle-aged lady named Barb sits at the front desk, wearing a headset and answering calls. She is capable, knowledgeable, and helpful, and any observer is struck by the feeling that if she took a sick day, by 5:00pm the entire office would be in disarray, if not actively on fire. As she types away on the computer, the phone rings.

BARB: Minnesota Twins baseball club, how may I help you? Oh, hello, Mr. Nishioka. How has your offseason been? (Listens for a moment.) Oh, geez, I'm sorry to hear that, dear. (Listens some more) Oh. Oh dear. My goodness. Well, listen, how can I help you out today?

An employee from the baseball operations department drifts out of an office opposite the front desk, clearly concerned about the phone call that he's overheard.

BARB: What's that? Oh, the spring training information? I'm sorry, I don't know what could have happened with your information packet, we should have sent you one and your agent should have received one too... Okay, let me just look that up for you quick, hold on a second there.

The team employee starts to life, waving his arms above his head to get Barb's attention. Barb looks at him quizzically, holding her hand over the mouthpiece of her headset to muffle any noise. The employee walks over to her desk, picks up a sheet of paper headlined "NISHIOKA SPRING PLAN A," and taps it warningly with his finger. She shakes her head emphatically, but after a brief flurry of wordless gesticulation, it becomes clear that while Barb doesn't want to go through with this plan, it's been long-discussed by the organization, and she had better toe the line.

BARB: Are you there, Mr. Nishoka? I'm sorry about that, it took a minute to pull up the file here, our computers are so slow, ha ha. (Reading off the sheet) Okay, so spring training begins this year on April 11... yes, it's quite late this year, isn't it? It's something to do with leap year and the moon. I think Easter is late too this year, I can never tell. Anyway, so it's April 11 - you'll probably want to get there a couple of days early, of course - and we're holding it in Dusseldorf, Germany this year. (Listens) Oh yes, it's quite strange. We're trying to explore the untapped German market, I think. Is there anything else? No? All right, you have a good day, sir. We'll see you in a couple of we- months, I mean.

The team employee nods, and turns back into his office. BARB hangs up the phone. We can see that she is not happy with what she's done, and for a moment, she stares out the window towards the field, clearly lost in thought. Just then, the phone rings again, and she jumps just a bit. It rings again. She stares at the phone as though she's never quite heard it ring properly before, like she's never really known what it meant. It rings a third time. She takes a deep, steadying breath, then exhales. Before the phone can ring again, she's pressed the button to pick up the call, and answers in the same cheerful way she always has.

SCENE: The Hammond Stadium clubhouse in Fort Myers. Players are beginning to arrive for spring training - some have been South for awhile now, others are just arriving in town. Glen Perkins sits in front of his locker, sorting out his things for the coming weeks when a crash is heard from outside; glass tinkles on the pavement as if a car has just crashed into a retaining wall.

PERKINS: Oh God no.

There is a crash from the door, as if a body has just run into it. Seconds later, the handle turns and the door opens.

MATT CAPPS: Whoo-wee, it's good to be back here in Tampa! Good to see you boys!

There is no one in the clubhouse besides Perkins, except for a dozing Wayne Hattaway.

PERKINS: We're not in Tampa. We're in Fort Myers.

CAPPS: We are? Heck, no wonder that cab ride cost me like eight hundred dollars. I thought that cabdriver was just taking the long way from the airport. Gotta be honest, I fell asleep. That catfish sushi I made last night just ain't sitting right.

He throws his bag at a chair in front of a locker labeled "Brian Duensing", breaking the chair. The bag splits, sending what appears to be thirty-five pounds of gas-station beef jerky skidding across the floor.

PERKINS: You made sushi out of catfish?

CAPPS: Sure. Easiest thing in the world. Catch 'em with your bare hands, then take out a knife and cut yourself off a piece. It's like smoking an Omega-3 cigarette. Delicious.

Perkins gags.

CAPPS: Whatsamatter there, Perk? You're looking a little green. Don't worry, though, I'm taking over snack duty in the bullpen this year. You boys keep on bringing seeds and them out there like we're some kinda rabbits or something. This year we're gonna have some proper food out there. Get things going right.

PERKINS: Is that what all the beef jerky's for?

CAPPS: That? No, that's to get me through until Friday. Capps turns around to pick up some of the packages, somehow knocking over a couple of tables, both of which land on Perkins' suitcase. Whoops! Sorry about that, buddy. This kinda stuff keeps happening to me. Did I tell you that I've been in nineteen car crashes this winter? Heck, eleven of them were in my own garage.

PERKINS: You got in a car crash in your own garage?

CAPPS: I got some trouble with the door opener. Anyway, I gotta run out and pick up a few bullpen supplies. I need a ten-burner grill, a barbecue smoker, and like forty pounds of pigs' feet. Gonna be a good season!

He leaves, accidentally kicking over a bucket of baseballs on the way.

Here's the link to Volume 3. Volume 1 is here; Volume 2 is here.