Camden Debut (cont - 12)

Josh Bravo was the first hitter. He wasn’t a typical leadoff hitter. That spot normally belonged to the fleet footed Rudy McGee. Rudy was getting less playing time now because of the big bats in the Yankee lineup. If any of them made solid contact with a Jason Woo fastball the ball would be going a long way. Kevin worried this would be the second time seeing Jason, allowing the hitters to view video on him to make adjustments to his pitching. In all the streams of video out there tendencies were ripe to discover.

Josh planted his right foot firmly in the back of the box, wiping out the white chalk line identifying the batter’s box. “Good luck to you,” he said, tapping his bat against Kevin’s shin guards. He dug himself a hole, the chalk dust making a tiny plume of white smoke as his right foot snuggled into the dirt. Kevin suspected most of the hitters would be standing as far back in the box as they could. He was probably expecting a fastball. Let’s give him a fastball.

Kevin put one finger down. Jason nodded. He went into his slow delivery, his left knee cocked high to the sky, pausing, his arms lifting high in the air as if he was raising an axe, before letting loose. The ball zipped to the plate like a flash, exploding into Kevin’s mitt, sending dust particles flying into the air. Josh moved his bat slightly forward but let it pass. “Steeerike One,” yelled the umpire.

This brought a loud chorus of “Woooooos” from the crowd. The game had begun. Let’s get ready to rumble.

Josh stepped out of the batter’s box, loosening the Velcro flaps from his batting gloves, tightened them up again. He took a big sigh as he stepped back into the box, allowing his right foot to settle snugly in the hole he dug, waving his bat across the plate.

Power versus power. Another fastball? Kevin put one finger down, pointed to the inside part of the plate. Jason nodded again. Again the ball zipped past the inside corner of the plate, striking the glove with a loud thud. Josh lurched back but again did not offer. “Steeerike Two,” yelled the umpire.

Another thunderous roar from the stands. It sounded like a constant rumbling of thunder.

Dare I try it again? Josh would be expecting a curveball or slider, maybe even the changeup. He wouldn’t be expecting three fastballs in a row. Mano y mano. Kevin put one finger down, pointed his finger to the inside again. Jason nodded. The ball zipped across the plate in almost the same spot. Josh left his bat on his shoulder and the umpire cried out “Steeerike Three.”

This brought out the clap of the thunder sticks and more chants of “Wooooooooo.” Those lacking thunder sticks raised their arms up to give the sign of the “Woo”.

“You can’t hit what you can’t see,” someone could be heard yelling from behind home plate.

The next victim would be Victor Murray, his arm covered in colorful tattoos. He had a mean scowl on his face, his blonde hair peeking out from his batting helmet, his chin covered in two days growth of whiskers. He had the eye black under each eye forming a square.

“Time,” Kevin called and he trotted out to the mound.

When he reached the mound he put his right arm on Jason’s shoulder, his eyes squarely focused on the brown fire in Jason’s eyes. “I don’t like this guy. I want to remind him of our rumble in spring training. First pitch, throw one inside, just below his chin.” He was speaking to Jason in Mandarin so he saw no reason to put his glove to his lips to hide his words from the Yankee dugout.

Kevin could see the intense look on Jason’s face as he nodded his assent, a slight grin appearing on his lips as a bead of sweat dripped from his chin. “Let’s melt those tattoos on his arm with some high heat,” Jason muttered in Mandarin.

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