“Yeah.” I sigh. I’m not in the right frame of mind to play. I have no choice in the matter, either. I’ve started every game since Wilson took over, and I’m not about to take myself out of the lineup.
“Why are you so blue?” Davenport asks.
“I think someone kicked him in the trash hole,” Kidd says, making me chuckle. I shake my head and start to get ready.
“You know, I’m going to start writing down all your one-liners and make a book out of them,” I tell Kidd, who laughs.
“As long as I can be on the cover, I don’t care what you do.” He rubs his hands over his chest and winks at me. Davenport and Singleton start to laugh, which only pisses Kidd off, by the disgruntled look on his face.
I try to focus on getting ready, but it’s hard. I want to call Ainsley, maybe go see her so we can talk, except I can’t think of anything to say. The only question that comes to mind is, “Why?” and she doesn’t even have an answer to that. Truth is, we fucked up, and now we have a child on the way.
“Fuck,” I say, reaching for my phone. It dawns on me that I never told her how sorry I was that her mother passed away. I was too consumed with the fact that she told me I’m going to be a dad to consider her feelings.
I’m sorry about your mother. I meant to tell you earlier, but…well my mind is elsewhere.
I power it off and stash it in the corner of my locker. The last thing I want to do is reach for it continuously until I have to go out on the field.
I’m the last one out of the clubhouse, missing my ritual warm-up with Bainbridge. He gives me a funny look when I finally hit the field.
“Sorry, man,” I say, offering him a weak excuse.
“Yep.” I take off toward the field to start the stretches. Clearly I need to stop wearing my emotions on my sleeve and find a way to bottle them up. I know the guys know me better than anyone else, but this touchy-feely shit with them asking if I’m okay is really going to get on my nerves. I slip on my sunglasses in hopes that I can hide the agony I’m in. Maybe it’ll be enough to ward off the questions so I can deal with the inner turmoil without an audience.
Everything is automatic for me, from warm-ups to taking the field and standing in the batter’s box. My swing is slow and off the mark, and my throws to the infield are without precision. Each time I come in from the outfield, my father is yelling, telling me to pull my head out of my ass. I wish it were that easy.
No, what I wish is that she hadn’t told me on a game day. Why she couldn’t wait one more week, or have told me two weeks ago when we had a day off? I get that maybe she doesn’t how our schedules work, but she could’ve asked.
But who am I kidding? It wouldn’t have mattered. She called, and I went right to her because she still has a hold on my heart. We only dated for few weeks, and yet I let her in more than anyone else, and now I’m paying the price. It’s showing in my game, and there isn’t shit I can do to get out of the funk.
We end up losing, and that drops us to second place in the standings with back-to-back losses against the White Sox. And if that isn’t bad enough, my father is waiting for me when I come out of the clubhouse. The look on his face is pure anger and completely unwarranted. I’m allowed to have a bad game. It’s not a w
ritten rule but a known fact. Sometimes the other team gets the best of you. Or you get the best of yourself.
“Another performance like that and you’re going to lose your starting spot.”
I smirk and shake my head. “I won’t. It was one bad night.”
“You’ve had many,” he says as he falls in step next to me.
“I’ll be fine.”
He grabs my arm and stops me from walking anywhere. He’s lucky no one is around or people would start saying shit. Security doesn’t take to kindly to the players being manhandled, even by their overbearing fathers.
“You need to be the best when you’re out there every single time.”
“I had a shitty night. It happens. I have a lot on my mind right now.” As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I immediately regret them. I don’t want him to know about Ainsley and the baby.
Just then my phone rings and I make the mistake of looking at the screen to see who’s calling. It’s her, and unfortunately he sees it as well.
“Is that the woman from Florida?”
I nod, unwilling to give him a verbal answer.