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Wait. What? My bat. Weightless. Gone.
I look in my hands. Only about eight inches of maple remain. The other 26 inches are gone to I-don't-know-where. Sawed in half. The palm of my right hand is vibrating like a tuning fork and will for the next 30 minutes.
The baseball? I look up. There it is. A pop-up toward first base. I run. I see Hinske, 235 pounds of Wisconsin beef, in the base line tracking it. Panic is a rapid transit system to the brain, and I have time to imagine a collision, the pain and the ignominy of a sportswriter blowing out the knee of the starting first baseman. But Hinske catches it uneventfully. I am out. Though the bat died in vain, there is a measure of victory to be extracted from merely making contact.
Huckaby, hitting next, strikes out, but Shea Hillenbrand picks up both of us with a single to drive in McDonald. We win 3-0.
In the locker room I run into Gaudin, towel around his waist, headed for the shower.
"You know what?" he says. "I didn't even know it was you up there until after the at bat. I was just so locked in on trying to get an out with the man on third.
"I threw that two-seamer down [on the second pitch] and figured I'd come back up for a different look. Change your eye level. Then after the out, I looked over and thought, Man, that was Verducci. You did real good."
I head to the weight room, where Butterfield finds me.
"Skip wants to see you in his office," he says.