Press Conference (cont - 7)

They were up until 2AM opening letters and packages. They only got halfway through the crate. There were letters from kids wishing Jason luck, agents wanting to represent him, charities asking him to be their spokesman, women asking him if he was looking for a wife, some of them sending provocative pictures of themselves. The most touching was the one from an adoption agency in China wishing him luck. They sent him a group picture, the kids all smiling in front of a swing set. The weirdest was from a man sending him a condom. He was hoping to get lucky using a condom signed by Jason Woo.

“Can these things be reused?” Jason asked, holding the condom up to examine the end of it to see how thick it was.

“I would think not. At least I’ve never tried. That would kind of defeat its purpose.”

Jason collapsed back into the couch, letters and envelopes falling from his lap. “Do they expect me to respond to these?”

“It would be nice.”

“But they one person writing to me. I only one person writing to one thousand. Not possible.”

At that point they called it a night.

The first day of spring training was more a medical testing day and a rah-rah group session. There would be no ball field activity. No sounds of cowhide crashing into leather. The sound of bats would be silent. This morning all the players would line up at the various testing areas to urinate in a cup, have a doctor massage their testicles to feel for any lumps, have their asses invaded by a plastic tube to test for colon cancer, get their body fat measured and have a needle plugged into their arm to extract blood to measure for any evidence of drugs. All these results would be fed to the general manager who would then decide based on poor fat content, venereal disease or marijuana residue in a player’s blood stream who was a trade candidate.

Most avoided the anal checkup until they had at least pissed in the cup. A couple years ago a player had pissed all over the wall after his anal cavity was violated. He thought he could hold it, but he had never had anything stuck in his ass before. None of the other testing stations were a joy. They didn’t hire any cute nurses to massage your testicles. That was another area the players avoided until they had an opportunity to piss in the cup.

Kevin made sure they would arrive early so they wouldn’t have to wait in long lines. “Save your piss for the morning. If you can hold it,” Kevin warned Jason the night before. “If you feel violated after this day is done you won’t be alone.”

The one test Kevin did not look forward to was the one measuring the percentage of body fat on his skin. Last year his body fat percentage had gone up for the first time. He would like to have blamed it on Shu for her cooking, but then Shu’s body fat percentage was less than his. The real issue was his lack of motivation to work out since he married Shu. With her in the house the two hour work outs dwindled to one. That was not Shu’s fault. Or maybe it was. She didn’t have to be so attractive.

The medical tests would take up the whole morning. If there was time for lunch before the afternoon session you could consider yourself lucky. The afternoon session consisted of a meeting in the auditorium where the players would be introduced to the minor league managers and coaching staff from the various organizations. Though many of the players were in their fifth or sixth year in the organization, the coaching staff of the minor league teams was a constant revolving door. This gave the managers and coaches an opportunity to talk about their expectations and hopefully motivate a player for the coming season. The good coaches didn’t talk long or create unrealistic expectations.

Someone would also review the minor league camp rules with them. Kevin warned Jason he would not be able to interpret those rules for him. Larvell needed him for the afternoon to act as interpreter for a number of Chinese reporters. He dreaded that more than getting a tube shoved up his ass. “I’ll make sure you get there. All you have to do is keep your eyes open. The most important thing to remember is that if they find you with a girl in your hotel room it is a $200 fine. They don’t even care if it is your sister. Keep all women out of your room. I’ll brief you on the other rules later tonight.”

Tomorrow they would do conditioning drills to see who came to camp in shape. That would consist of sprints, running as fast as you can around cones and finishing with a one mile run. Those who did not pass the conditioning drill were given more of the same the next day. Those who passed were rewarded with finally getting to use the tools of baseball, catching a ball with a mitt and swinging a bat.

The first thing Kevin noticed as he pulled the car into the parking lot was all the activity. The parking lot was filled with white media vans with groups of people near these vans setting up camera equipment. He noticed a distinct Asian flair to the people setting up the equipment. When they got out of the car and started walking along the parking lot he also felt the stares and saw the pointing of fingers as he and the 6’5” Jason walked to the main office to check the day’s schedule. What was once a beehive of activity had slowed to a crawl, with mouths jabbering and eyes staring at Jason.

Kevin wondered what the collection of news media at the major league facilities were like. He had never seen this much camera equipment at a minor league facility before. They spent much of their time walking over communication lines. As they were nearing the door to the main office a few people with handheld cameras ran in front of them. Men with cameras invaded their space by taking their pictures. More Asian faces converged on them. It was an ambush. Coming out of nowhere a mass of Asian faces surrounded them. All the photographers were snapping pictures, the white flashes blinding them to their destination. Kevin could hear bits and pieces of their discussion as they tried to get Jason to turn their way so they could get the front of his face. Jason became paralyzed.

“Jason Woo.” Jason turns his head. Snap and flash. “Jason Woo.” Again Jason turns his head. Snap and Flash. “Jason Woo.” Another turn of the head. Snap and flash.

Jason tried to shield himself from the flashes with his arms. Kevin grabbed him by his left elbow and the two of them ran the last ten yards to get inside the main office. It was like running through a torrential downpour, only barreling through human bodies is a lot tougher than running through rain drops. Once inside they stopped to catch their breath. That was a wakeup call.

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