The Breaking News Story (cont - 3)

Spring training was about done. Larvell gathered Moose, Pablo and Rigo into the office again to go over the roster assignments for the various levels of the minor leagues and the major league team to see if anything needed to change. The team had a decent spring. They only lost one more game than they won. However, no one remembers your spring training won/loss record once the regular season starts. It is the won/loss record of the regular season that counts.

The big buzz was still Jason’s appearance against the Yankees. Ruben was a bit disappointed Jason did not make another appearance to fill the park in Sarasota, though some people went to the games anyway in the hope of seeing Jason pitch. It never happened.

The games at the minor league park saw a lot of visitors. Ruben had said they should start charging admission to the minor league facilities to earn more revenue. Larvell had to remind him they shared those facilities with the city of Sarasota. There were also little league and soccer fields in the area. It was not practical to charge admission to the minor league facilities without any controlled entrances and exits.

The request for press passes from the Chinese doubled after Jason’s success. Many of the U.S. sports writers were making it a point to visit the minor league facilities as well, especially when Jason was scheduled to pitch in a game. Curious Asian vacationers and true baseball fans all wanted to get a glimpse of Jason Woo throw in the minor league park. They ran out of temporary bleachers to accommodate all the people visiting the minor league park so most of the fans had to stand to get a glimpse of the legend being talked about in the press and over the internet.

The only person from China who had left spring training was Kathy Li. There were no more sightings of her and her two effeminate assistants after the interview was concluded. This created more parking spaces now that her giant motor home was gone. They needed all that space to accommodate the onslaught of writers and fans visiting the minor league camp to get a glimpse of Jason Woo pitch.

Larvell got hounded by many of the writers for an interview with Jason. When he told them it was not possible they would ultimately bring up the Kathy Li interview. Larvell wondered how they knew about the interview with Kathy since it had yet to be televised.

Rigo calculated Jason’s minor league numbers as a point of fascination with the group. “20 innings pitched, two hits, one walk, 35 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA,” he announced with a groupies affection to his tone. “The opposition hit him at a .032 clip. If you add in his major league spring training numbers it is even more impressive. His ERA stays at zero and he has 42 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched. The opposition average though would rise to .042. That’s still pretty good.”

Larvell smiled at the sarcasm. Rigo was learning. “Last time we met there was some resistance about starting Jason at Delmarva. Any second thoughts?”

“Put him in the major leagues,” Moose shouted. “I’m serious. There isn’t a pitcher on our major league team that has better stuff than him.”

Larvell appreciated the optimism Moose showed in Jason, but he wasn’t about to start Jason in the major leagues, not with the current cast of characters they had on their roster. He thought the roster still had some poisoned personalities he wanted to cleanse from the team before he exposed someone like Jason to this group. Once they were traded away or released he would not have quite as much resistance. He also didn’t see any point in rushing Jason when it was clear from the talent they had on the major league roster they were not going to make the playoffs even if Jason pitched every fifth day. Why waste one of his free years to start his arbitration clock running early.

“Any other thoughts?” Larvell was hoping to get some debate to counter Moose.

“The kid is definitely talented.” Larvell noticed Pablo was almost as dark as Rigo. The Florida sun had lathered him the color of maple syrup. “I would still like to see him start in Delmarva. We can still move him up quickly once he has had success there.”

“When has he not had success? He struck out seven Yankees. In a row.” Moose pointed to the Yankee logo printed on his arm. “That is a championship caliber team. You saw him in the Dominican. He was pretty dominant there and they have some pretty good hitters in that league. It is borderline AA/AAA. He will not be challenged at Delmarva.”

“He has looked impressive,” Pablo agreed. “The Yankees were just an exhibition game and that was the first time they were seeing the kid. In the Dominican, there have been plenty of pitchers who have had success down there, but done squat once given the opportunity to pitch in the major leagues. The game is so much faster here. Let’s first start with baby steps. When it looks like he can walk we’ll bump him up and keep bumping him up until he can show us a record breaking 100 yard dash.”

“You have anything you want to add Rigo?”

“First of all, I’m a numbers guy. I can’t look at a guy’s motion and immediately say that he is going to be a success. Jason doesn’t have enough numbers for me to make any conclusions. But he is the first guy I have watched who I can say grades far above any other players I’ve watched. His fastball is explosive and his curve just drops off the table. He is the real deal. But what is the down side with starting him at Delmarva to get his feet wet?”

At that point Ruben came barging through the door. Larvell had felt the buzzer on his cell phone constantly vibrate, but because they were engaged in discussion he never thought to pick it up to look to see who was buzzing. After Jason’s performance against the Yankees his phone seemed to be on constant buzz mode. He did not have Jackie stationed in front of his door to warn him about any unexpected intruders like he did in Baltimore. Ruben was able to bust right in without any warning.

“We have a major crisis,” Ruben blurted out, almost out of breathe, sweat pouring down his forehead and rolling down his cheeks. “It appears Kathy has a news story that is disparaging to Jason. It’s all over the television.”

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