It started with a cannoli. "It’s the sheep’s milk ricotta cheese. Makes all the difference in the world." Fasano deep throated the cannoli, paused a beat, and winked at Scarsone. Then he pulled the pastry out slowly from his full sumptuous lips, never breaking eye contact. He waved the pastry in drowsy little circles an inch from Scarsone’s nose. "You want a taste of the fatherland?"
Scarsone always struggled to acclimate. In San Francisco there was clean orderliness that was comforting. Bonds was Bonds. Even then. Surly. Aloof. It was Matt Williams who owned the room. Like only a veteran can. He instinctively knew when to break out the whip hand or the velvet glove. Even though the losses ran like blood, the room was breathable. Kansas City was a different beast altogether. Felix Martinez would get loose by throwing knives at a wooden dime store Indian he won in a poker game back in the D.R. He aimed for the eyes. Thwak. Thunk. Thwak. That Martinez stationed the wooden statue, whom he dubbed "Whitey," inches from Jay Witasick, was funny at first. Tim Spehr was obsessed with serial killers. Mendy Lopez was a reptile freak. Randa was into stomping porn. Scariest of all was Sweeney. Earnest chapel sessions. Shrieking about life after your dead. Utterly humorless. A sinister vibe clung to the Royals like the grease film on a fresh Slim Jim.
Fasano was a natural ally. "We Italians need to stick together Steve-O." A pat on the shoulder that lingered a moment too long. An arm around the waist. A playful punch. Fasano was a big 6’2. A bear of man. All hair and teeth and charisma. Scarsone had been around catchers before. He knew the type. Physical. Handsy. Gregarious. At first he didn’t think much of it. But then he began to notice that he was the only one who regularly got Tiramisu, Torta di Fromage, or fresh gelato treats from Big Sal. That was the other thing. Big Sal. Fasano would demand that Scarsone referred to him as "Big Sal." "My father’s name was Fasano. Call me Big Sal." When he said "Big Sal" he would inevitably look down at his crotch, and then slowly look back at Scarsone with a sly grin on his face, shrug his shoulders, and say "Big Sal is a lucky guy." Then he’d tussle Scarsone’s hair and pretend to hit him in the nuts. "Baked Ziti!"
September in Seattle. Playing out the string. Fasano homered off John Halama in the 5th. Before his next at bat, Sal set up shop in the on-deck circle, with his back to the field. He made a big show of picking up the pine tar rag. "Hey Scarsone." He said it so softly that Scarsone was shocked he could hear it. They locked eyes. Fasano began to lewdly handle his bat with the rag. Slowly working it from the handle to the barrel. Twisting a little at the top of each stroke. A little "unhhh" escaped his lips as he made each pass. Unhh. Unhhh. Unhh. Gently rocking his hips. Scarsone wanted to stop watching but he couldn’t. Muser shifted uncomfortably on the bench but didn’t say a word.
To be continued…..