"Out on the streets, you know, can be dangerous," Rodriguez says. So after road games the players decide to meet in one of their hotel rooms. Venezuelans Carlos Hernandez, a catcher, and Omar Daal, a relief pitcher, also are invited. It is the Latin Quarter of the Dodgers. Dinner is ordered. Usually it is steak, rice and a few cervezas. The bill is typically more than $200 and is typically picked up by Martinez, whose $2.7 million salary is the highest among them. "Sometimes we don't let him pay because he's always doing it," says Rodriguez. "He is very nice. I like that guy. Ramon is our leader. He's the one who is always encouraging us and every day telling us the right things to do."
With dinner there is always a game of dominoes. It is friendly, if inconclusive.
"I win a little bit," Martinez says, "but we all do. It is even."
"I would say Ramon is best," Rodriguez says.
"No, me," Mondesi says, slapping himself in the chest. He laughed so hard at his playful boast that his earring shook. Then, looking more RuPaul than Raul and more Miranda than Mondesi, he headed out of the clubhouse a happy man. The weekend had been fruitful. More than a quarter of the season had been played, and the Dodgers had established something. Appearances notwithstanding, this is a team to be taken seriously.