The Utility Player, Chapter 9

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh: this is the sound of the Utility Player swatting line drives on a windy afternoon at Siete Mares Park. Deep, cleansing grunts. I am so happy for him!

He settles into the dusty batters box, the very dust to which we all return, and the guy still in his mechanic’s uniform and work boots lobs in pitches the up swats and swats and swats. Everything the up has ever thought might work in terms of a batting stance is working. He is barreling up like a stevedore. There is not even any need to look around to see if others are acclaiming his work. These are uncontestable rockets to the outfield. I am just so happy for him!

Oh and playing the field he was catching high pop flies. You know how the ball can really get way up in the sky? Like, way up? Also, they have all this backspin. So the idea is that you’re going to catch this baseball that has been hit way up high but not very far, and also has a ton of backspin on it. The up settles where he thinks the ball is coming down, holds up his mitt, does not breathe, oh no, is so in the moment his autonomic nervous system says “Everybody hush up.” And so the up is a standing mitt that catches the ball.

He covers the glove with his free hand to make sure the sucker stays put and voila, there is the up, catching a pop-up, just like we hoped he could but didn’t really know for sure until now.

Furthermore, he can throw accurately with adequate distance, without shocking shoulder pain. Holy moly. Everything is coming his way. Swatting line drives, catching pop-ups, also snaring some grounders. Look at him go. Living the dream. And all of this in Spanish, with this gathering of Latinx guys he stumbled into after putting a notice up on social media to find people to play catch with him. Oh, he is more than playing catch now. The up is taking batting practice. I am so happy for him.

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