Let’s help Jose out so he is not bored all summer. This is a serious problem. As we approach Memorial Day weekend poor Veras is sitting on eight saves for the season, roughly one a week. Mostly, though, he has nothing to do each day when his employer goes off to battle against other big league clubs that are superior.
Veras, 32, is a right-handed thrower from the Dominican Republlic who has a lifetime record of 19-19 and a career earned run average of 3.97 going into Thursday’s play. Those numbers could well remain static for the entire holiday weekend because the Astros might not be in another situation for days that require Veras’ services as a closer.
That’s because if your job is the closer for the Houston Astros there is rarely anything to save. Houston has the worst record in the American League and those close-game, late-inning survival opportunities just don’t come around very often for the Astros.
Veras is 6-foot-6 and weighs 240 pounds. Just a guess, but it seems unlikely that batters welcome the sight of his fastball flying at them. But Jose just doesn’t get that many chances to use that weapon. Prospects do not seem likely to improve for him and Houston all season long either.
He may be doomed to months of waiting by the phone like a teenaged girl who said, “Call me, maybe.” So what can Veras do to occupy himself as he waits for the periodic telephone calls from manager Bo Porter?
Here are some suggestions:
1) Warm up more often just so he doesn’t forget his throwing motion. So what if fans wonder what the heck Veras is doing tossing the ball in the bullpen in the fourth inning of a 0-0 game.
2) Fill out crossword puzzles. Keeps the mind active, if not the arm.
3) Answer fan mail and sign autographs for all of the kids who write to you–this is an especially efficient task since you won’t have to do it in the clubhouse or at home.
4) Come up with a top ten list besides this list that will get you on David Letterman.
5) Play chess with the bullpen coach.
6) Convince the scoreboard operator to play a different baseball movie on the big board every game so you can catch up on Hollywood baseball history.
7) Ask for a trade to any team except the Miami Marlins because you would be in the same situation there.
8) Out of gratefulness for such a job, repeat 100 times a game, “I am in the major leagues.”
9) Focus on how the lack of stress on your arm this season will extend the length of your career.
10) Join the Great Books Club and use down time in the bullpen to read “Moby Dick,” “War and Peace,” and the collected works of Shakespeare. That should keep you busy until the Fourth of July.
By then fans across America will surely have come through with additional suggestions to occupy you, at least through Labor Day.