My first day at Nationals camp I spent time on a team bus with a number of people who I knew through my work with sports journalism.
I knew they would be good teammates.
I also knew that one of them would be one of the best players in baseball.
That player is Jayson Werth, a right-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic.
The Nationals are in town for the All-Star break and they need a starter for the World Series.
Werth was on the team bus, but it was just him and his teammate.
His name is Luis Sardinas, and he’s a pitcher.
He has the perfect mix of experience, speed, and talent to be a starting pitcher in the National League.
I know what it’s like to be on the bus with one of those guys.
After about an hour of chatting with Werth and a handful of other players, we were ready to begin our trip.
I took off my helmet and jacket, and was greeted by the bus driver who was nice enough to take my picture.
I asked him, “How are you doing today?”
He responded, “Good.
I’ve been working on my fastball.
I’m feeling good.”
He then asked me what I was doing here.
I replied, “I’m here to go see the Nationals.”
“How long are you staying in your hotel?”
He said, “We’re going to have to wait until tomorrow.
You can stay for a few days, or maybe longer.
If you’re staying for the next few days you’ll get to meet some other Nationals players.
I hope you’re comfortable with this.”
I told him that I was.
I went back to the bus and told him my story.
I told the driver I wanted to come up and meet him and to ask him if he had any questions.
He said he would talk to him later.
I had a few more questions but when I was done he asked me, “Is this going to be easy?”
“No, this is going to take time,” I said.
“You’re going in with all these players, and you’re just going to see them a few times.”
He said yes, but I wanted him to get a good feel for the Nationals players before I made the trip.
The next day, I got a call from a person at the Nationals hotel who was a few blocks from where I stayed.
He wanted to meet me.
We went up to his hotel and he told me, in a calm voice, “Welcome to the Nationals organization.”
He asked me if I was a journalist and I said yes.
He told me I was going to meet with the Nationals manager, Bryce Harper, who was also going to stay with us.
After the meeting, I walked up to Harper and asked him about how we were going to cover the team and what the next steps were.
I wanted Harper to know I was ready to go, but he wasn’t.
He looked at me and said, I have a lot of work to do.
I was like, Why are you so slow?
He said because you don’t know what’s coming.
I didn’t know that.
It was a little surreal, but the truth is I was there to work.
I saw the team’s starting lineup on the scoreboard, and it was my job to write about it and to make it a better picture of what was happening in the clubhouse.
We spent a couple of days at the hotel, and after that I took a flight back to Puerto Rico and got ready to start the second day of camp.
I got there at 6 a.m. and I got to meet Bryce Harper.
He was the first player I met in the locker room.
He greeted me, told me his name was Luis Sardina, and told me to follow him.
I started walking down the hallway and he was right behind me.
He followed me and then we were both in the hallway, waiting for the bus.
We didn’t speak for a while, but after a few minutes he started talking to me.
“I know you’re a good pitcher,” he said.
I said, yes, I’m good.
He smiled, told my story, and said I was the perfect pitcher to go with him.
It didn’t matter what we talked about.
We knew each other for a long time.
He had played in a major league game a couple years earlier, but then came this year.
“It’s not going to hurt you if you stay in the Dominican,” he told my wife.
“They don’t let you go to the Dominican.
They’re going into your room to check you in, but that’s fine.
If it was an injury, I’d go to Puerto Rica.”
I’m glad I told Luis that, because he was the only player I told that he could stay in his hotel room and he did.
The rest of the players stayed in the hotel.
When I returned to the hotel