A minivan pulls up next to Hammond stadium. Slowly the back passenger’s side door slides open revealing Jason Castro sitting in full catchers gear and a JanSport backpack with the strap on just one shoulder, just like the cool guys wear it. He scoots off the seat and onto the pavement with a look of anxious nervousness on his face.
The window rolls down as Castro’s mom yells out to him, "Have a good first day honey! Go make some friends!"
"Mom! Please! You’re embarrassing me already!" Castro yells back. He puts his head down and speed walks towards the stadium. Not too fast, but not too slow either. Just in case anyone is watching him already.
"I love you honey!" his mom yells as he disappears into the stadium.
Castro is unsure of where he’s supposed to go. All the hallways and doors are new and alien to him. He picks a direction and walks hoping for the best. Eventually he stumbles upon a lunch room.
Trevor May sits at a corner table. He’s moving around sporadically while music with way too much bass pumps from the headphones plugged into his laptop. Somehow, someway, multicolored lasers and lights are shooting out of the laptop. Castro looks to the right and sees a group of relief pitchers holding down Michael Tonkin and tickling him relentlessly while laughing.
"Guys, Stop! I told you I have sensitive skin! This is SO not cool!" Tonkin yells to deaf ears.
"Hey," he says.
"’Sup." Belisle responds.
"I’m new here. It’s my first day. I went to Houston last year," Castro tells him.
Belisle looks at him for couple seconds before saying, "Me too, bro. I went to Washington last year. Had a lot of fun. I don’t think these guys even know what fun is."
Castro thinks about his next words carefully. "Do you…wanna be friends...or whatever?"
"Yeah, totes," Belisle says.
"Cool. Cool," Castro responds.
Silence overtakes the new BFF’s.
"So…do you know where our lockers are?" Castro asks to break the awkwardness.
"Go out that door and take a left," Belisle answers without pointing in any direction.
"Thanks. See ya," Castro says. His first friend doesn’t respond.
Castro heads towards the lockers, passing the tickle fight without making eye contact with anyone.
In the room he finds Ervin Santana alone sitting on a mound of baseballs. The Twins ace smells them one at a time, sits deep in thought for 10-20 seconds, then tosses them into one of two buckets labeled "Smells good" and "Don’t smell good." Castro notices the red gas can next to the "Don’t smell good" balls, but doesn’t say anything about it.
He goes down the line of lockers and finds one with "J. Castro" written on a piece of duct tape. He opens the door and several picture frames fall to his feet in a commotion. Taped to the inside of the door is a note. It reads:
Hi. How r u? I am good. I heard u liek framing so I bought u a bunch of picture frames. I hope u like them? Do you like them? I herd ur new and good at catcher. Can u make me good at pitching again? Pleas mark yes or no.
Castro looks around to see if anyone is watching before folding the note and putting it into his pocket. Past Santana is a door that looks like it leads to the field. Castro heads towards the door unsure if he’s made a good choice in coming here. Only time will tell.