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Normal tolerance building. It was similar to how I made it through my first year with the Blue Jays.

Bigger Than the Game: Restitching a Major League Life by Dirk Hayhurst

I learned it from watching other guys on the team. I believed that I just needed to ride out whatever it was that was making me feel down. Because I didn't have the cross-country-flights-screw-up-my-sleep excuse to get more sleeping pills should my supply run out, I started mixing in the oxycodone which also made me drowsy , or more alcohol, or both.

I never turned to hard liquor because that sounded like something a guy who had a problem would do, and I did not have a problem. I just liked sleeping. I rationed out the pills to make sure they'd last, stocked up on beer, and made sure not to spend too much time at the park, where I often felt isolated in the training room, inadequate because of my injury, and angry because of Brice.

As long as my routine didn't change, I'd make it through spring training by hitting my internal snooze button repeatedly. I projected that I'd run out of pills just after spring training, by which time I'd be throwing again and Brice would be gone. That, I believed, would make all the difference in whatever was bothering me. Of course, this was all based on the assumption that things wouldn't get worse.

One afternoon, after my pink weight lifting came to a close, I sat slumped and weary on my blue training table with an ice pack lashed to my shoulder by a tan bandage roll. A white plastic digital timer was clipped into the folds of the bandage with an alarm set for twenty minutes, which had long since run out. The water from the pack was expanding across my workout shirt in a damp, gray splotch, and trickling down my arm to my elbow, where it beaded and dripped onto the floor below.

The training-room doors shot open and in flew a flock of Blue Jay pitchers, squawking and chirping as they came. They were the first of the bullpen throwers and, throwing routines now finished, they'd come in to do their arm maintenance program. Brad Mills, a talented, left-handed pitching prospect and friend, was among them. He requested a pair of ice packs, which a trainer lashed to his arm with a tan elastic bandage, and then he sat down next to me. Work on drills we use once a year, then throw a bullpen. You know how often you hear that, right? Guy comes into camp, coaches all want him to learn something new, player does his best to please them, gets his ass kicked, then spends the whole year in Triple-A because he wasn't true to himself.

Have your catcher say you threw a couple good strikes with it. Then, so as not to be obvious, have him say"—I raised my left arm and made quotes—"'it's got the spin, it wants to break,' or something. You won't be the first guy who bullshitted your way through a new pitch. Mills was talented, no doubt about it, but the brass was right, he did need a cutter or slider.

I wondered what else they thought of him. He also said that I'd probably see some action in the same capacity that I did last year but, you know, anything could change in spring training.

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I turned and stared at him. He'd just repeated everything Alex had said to me before my injury, almost verbatim. Instead of answering, I opted to slump further down the Blue Jay color-coordinated wall. I actually believed I was unique to the club and would become one of its future contributors. But there were dozens of guys just like me in this organization, with the only major difference being none of them were stupid enough to run out and get themselves injured.

I was an idiot. A stupid, broken idiot.

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You definitely should try the slider. It's just that—". We both turned to regard "Brice Jared" standing with his hands on his hips, lip curled in a wry smile.

Dirk Hayhurst Joins Olbermann

When my eyes locked with his, he spoke again. They were my best chance at getting my book on the public's radar now that I was busted. I had to talk with them, beg them for some plugs. I've met some of your friends. Brice shook his head. I didn't do shit. You do it to yourself. I really thought"—he put up two fingers for a trainer inquiring about ice packs—"that after last season you would have learned your lesson. I didn't do a goddamn—" I stowed my anger when the trainer who'd made Brice's ice bags came to wrap him.

I at least had good enough sense not pick a fight in front of the training staff. When the trainer got done strapping the ice on Brice, he gave it a few choice whacks to shape it to Brice's shoulder and elbow, then clipped a timer onto him and walked away. Then he looked back to me and said, "Well, I'm sorry about your injury, but karma's a bitch, ain't it?

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Shit, you're afraid of not doing something the coaches want you to do because you don't want to make them think you're un-coachable. You have no idea the trouble that fucker got me into last year.

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I'm a liability now. Thank God Alex likes me or.

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  7. Well, lets just say some of the guys on this team think I'm a time bomb. It's only three weeks into spring training, but if this keeps up I'm not going to have a job when I'm healthy. Hell, they'd probably be asking you what your secret was, so they could teach it to minors boys. I can't pitch right now, so I can't afford to piss anyone off. If that asshole keeps playing well and telling guys I'm sneaking around with microphones in my pants and feeding inside scoops to the media, my life will become hell.

    I'd be better off gone.

    I threw my soaking wrap and towels into a laundry bin. I've got to. There will never be a day when I get to round everyone up and have a press conference to address the issue and we all talk about it like civilized men. That's not how baseball works. So why aren't more people laughing? Is that what this means? That's where we do all the rehab assignments," George said. I mean, there is going to be like a million bodies over there.

    Don't worry, we have Jep Jasper working over there and he's a really good guy. He'll take great care of you. But I didn't want to be taken care of by a really good guy.

    I wanted to stay in big league camp. Over on the minor league side, there were no more five-star breakfasts. No more catered lunches. No more on-demand clubby service. No more extra-wide custom lockers. And no more access to the book-selling, joke-sharing, big league media crew.

    I already didn't feel very connected to the team, it's true, but getting sent to the minors was like getting unplugged altogether and thrown out of Neverland at the same time. You can come to camp later, sleep in, go out and get breakfast.