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Day 4: O-Dog, Cat and V-Dub, Plus Two
THE COUNCIL of elders convenes. Wells, Hudson and Catalanotto huddle in front of their lockers to review three applications for preferential locker location. They will pick two from among shortstop Russ Adams, infielder John McDonald and Johnson. ¶ "The Pound?" Hudson says acidly of Adams's answer to the name-the-neighborhood portion of the application. "That's not very original." ¶ "He's just trying to suck up to you," Catalanotto says to Hudson, who is known as O-Dog. ¶ "Bad for you," Hudson replies to the player called Cat. "A cat in a pound is a bad idea." ¶ Nicknames are the pledge pins of the baseball fraternity. Earn one and you know you're in. In addition to O-Dog, Cat and V-Dub, Johnson is Reeder, Halladay is Doc, Hinske is Ske or Hendu, Zaun is Zaunie, journeyman catcher Greg Myers is Crash, Rios is Lexi and so on. Smooth-pated third baseman Corey Koskie, signed as a free agent, has not officially been dubbed, though Malloy delivered his spring training allowance in an envelope marked Commandant Klink Koskie.
Players with nicknames are rarely called by their given name. Indeed, when a bat company representative calls Zaun "Gregg" while taking his order, Catalanotto interjects, "Gregg? How weird does that sound? I didn't know who he was talking about."
Menechino points to me and tells the rep, "Make sure you get his order."
The bat rep is speechless, trying to figure out who this player is.
"Here's what I need," I tell him. "Ticonderoga. Number 2s."
Wells, Hudson and Catalanotto will later confer briefly with Halladay, also one of the elders, on the clubhouse matter. But I am learning why pitchers cannot fully be team leaders. Pitchers do their own thing. They locker separately, train separately, stretch separately. Pitchers and position players are zebras and wildebeests grazing the same range. They have little in common, but nature has assigned them to the same habitat.
Just before stretching begins on Field 2, Gibbons calls out, "I need everybody here for a minute. These guys have something to say."
The team gathers around Hudson, Wells and Catalanotto. Halladay, the zebra, stands off to the side.
Hudson says, "I'd like to announce that we have a name for our corner of the clubhouse: Oreo Row at Web Gem Way. And we've chosen two people to join us. V-Dub?"