His ill fortune continued in '85, and after a series with the Mets in July, he disappeared for five days in New York in order to consult a Dominican spiritualist. "I see bad spirits all around you," said the good doctor. He was right. Pascual finished the season 1-13 with a 6.14 ERA. The following spring he was cut at the end of camp.
The Expos, who signed Pascual to a minor league contract in February 1987, sent him to their Triple A team in Indianapolis, and he tore up the American Association, going 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA in June. He was called up in August and went 7-0 in September to help keep the Expos in the pennant race. The next season he was 12-8 with a 2.44 ERA, and the Expos rewarded him with a one-year, $850,000 contract for '89. This time he consulted a psychologist instead of a witch doctor and attended weekly sessions of Alcoholics Anonymous. His flamboyance remained undiminished, however. He added a slow-motion pitch he called the Pascual Ball. Many a Latin American junta could topple in the time it took the ball to reach the plate.
Unfortunately, Pascual had a relapse before spring training last year and spent two months in drug rehab. (As far as major league baseball is concerned, this was his first offense. If he fails to comply with its aftercare program, he will be suspended for a minimum of a year.) Pascual wound up with a 9-13 record in '89, a stat the pitching-hungry Yankees figured was worth big money. "Reason I jump to New York simple," he says. "They pay."
Though Pascual can be as sensitive as a Romantic poet at times, he says he won't be cowed by his new boss, George Steinbrenner. "Boss Boss is a lot like me," he says. "He like to win." Nor does Pascual think he'll succumb to the temptations of the Big Apple. "For me, New York like downtown Montreal. I don't need no bodyguard. If something happen, my friends keep me straight. Me and Luis Polonia real tight." Yankee fans may remember Polonia as the left-fielder who was convicted on a morals charge in Milwaukee last summer and sentenced to 60 days in jail.
"My daughter in the hospital, she very sick," says Valerio by way of introduction. "I can't get her out unless you give me money."
How long has she been there?
"Five days.... No, three weeks.... A couple of months, I think."
How much do you need to spring her?
"Thirty dollar. But I take 50 if that all you have."