He glided into the crowded room in the bowels of San Diego’s Petco Park at 4:57 p.m., I wrote it down exactly, because it was the first time I had seen him in any clubhouse since Vero Beach.
Three months earlier. Fifty-five million promises ago.
His name then was J.D. Drew, remember?
He was The New Beltre. He was The Young Finley.
(Drew, seconds before straining something, somewhere)
He was the double sixes in Paul DePodesta’s giant game of Strat-O-Matic, the scroll wheel on his baseball iPod.
He was the ideal player for those who study the sport at a keyboard and play it in a basement.
He was pixel perfect.
Look at that patience! Look at those smarts! Look at that swing!
Look at ¦ wait a minute?
Where did he go?
The moment Drew moved from the spreadsheet to the outfield, he disappeared.
The real pitchers cramped him. The real world crowded him.
He showed patience when the game required passion. He retreated when the clubhouse needed a charge.
The baseball part has been his fault. The human part has not.
But the only part that matters is, upon desperately turning to him for leadership, the Dodgers have grasped for air.
As they approach the halfway point of a season that still faintly breathes, Drew will walk softly and carry a shaky stick and raise a question.
If a $55-million investment falls in the middle of a crowded forest, how in the world can it not make a sound?
Had LA kept Beltre and the shortstop were hitting .250 in Dodger Blue, would Plaschke be nearly so hard on Paul DePodesta?