You look at Meloan in the crowded bullpen and you wonder what he's thinking?
He didn't show up until the 2nd inning but ever since then he's looked like a kid stuck on the outside looking in. Roberto, Rudy, and Scott all have the chairs facing the game through the gate. The other chairs are scattered behind them. The veterans have animated conversations throughout the game while the new kids, DJ, Eric, and Jonathan mill around the suddenly very small space in the bullpen. By the 3rd inning the backup catcher Moeller shows up and without any worries about impropriety he grabs a chair and gets right into the middle of the veteran group. Sure, he's a veteran himself and for one more month he gets to live the good life. For him, Roberto, and Rudy this may be the last month of living the good life. If they are lucky they might become major league coaches but in all practicality they will have to hit the buses as minor league coaches before they get back to the good life.
As Billingsley struggles in the 4th the phone rings and Rudy is told to find Hendrickson. I'd just seen him disappear a few moments before, probably headed for the restroom. Rudy takes off to get him and a few seconds later the tall guy hurries to the warm-up mound to get ready in case Chad can't work out of his troubles. But Chad gets the DP, and serious trouble is averted. Hendy sits down, I'm not sure if he's happy Chad got out of trouble and he didn't have to pitch or disappointed he didn't' get to pitch.
Meloan gets up and makes his presence felt in the bullpen except no one pays him any attention. No one talks to him, for most of the game he's either sitting or eavesdropping in on the veteran conversations, or he's standing looking out of place, or stretching just in case he's called.
As the game goes on you can feel the tension in the bullpen even from where I sit. They know Chad is only going 5 maybe 6 at most, and they all want to pitch but now there are so many more pitchers. Broxton shows up and goes to his chair which, up to till now no one had sat in. He sits down and no one bothers him.
The phone rings and Beimel and Proctor get up. Chad has done 5 innings and they get ready in case he runs into trouble in the 6th. Chad gets through the 6th and Beimel sits down while Proctor gets serious. At this point he knows he will get the call for the 7th. He heads out through the gate, the 1st of the bullpen crew to make it into the game. As soon as Proctor walks the 1st batter, Beimel is back warming up with Adrian Gonzalez looming 3 scant hitters away from making this a ballgame. Now he's joined by Big Jon Broxton. Proctor bears down and gets two of the next 3 but he won't be allowed to face Adrian. Beimel heads through the gate and as soon as he leaves Big Jon Broxton is left alone to warm up. Beimel does the job again but Big Jon knows he'll get the call for the 8th and really starts dialing it up. The catcher's mitt is banging loud enough you'd think the Padres a 100 yards away could here it.
The alpha dog Sammy Saito shows up. For a little guy he just seems to command the bullpen. As he hits the snack area he bends over and gives the Sammy smile to a fan that yelled something. It is the 1st smile I've seen all night. Did Nomo ever smile? I don't remember but I do know the Sammy smile is one of the best parts of these Dodgers. He's literally been a gift from Dodger Blue heaven. Even with a 5 run lead you get the feeling that Sammy might be used tonight.
As Broxton gets ready to be the 3rd pitcher to head through the bullpen gate he gets plenty of support from the fans. He can hear the loud cry's of go "get em Broxton", what he can't hear are the quiet almost whispers of "please, no home runs". It won't be an easy inning for Big Jon, as soon as he gives up the hit, Sammy is on the mound and bullpen fans start to stir. It is not Gagne like, but no seat is left unattended now next to the bullpen fence. But Big Jon works out of trouble and Sammy sits down. Wherever he wants.
He then gets animated with Roberto, Sammy striking his own chest several times and I have no clue what it is about. Roberto seems to be pantomiming something and then fakes a coin flip. Eric Hull then fakes a coin flip. Sammy breaks out laughing. Now the bullpen knows that with a 5 run lead, that Sammy will not be used, but who will be. Maybe they think Grady is flipping a coin to help him decide whom to use. Meloan is up, Hull is up, they look like they would battle to pitch the 9th, and then the phone rings and Grady stays true to form and picks the veteran Rudy to finish the game. He looks as excited to be pitching as if this was his 1st game instead of his 496th.
I leave, nothing against Rudy but I was at least hoping to see Meloan warm-up to see what the kid has but I didn't even get that.
Meloan will get his chance but it doesn't appear like it will be this year. Several years from now he will be sitting with the veterans when Adkins gets the call.