All was mostly quiet in the Port St. Lucie Clubhouse – except for a quiet sound that was coming from the veteran’s locker area.
“Did you hear that?” Ruben Tejada asked Daniel Murphy.
“Yes,” Daniel said.
“Do you think we should investigate?” Ruben said.
“I’ll take care of it,” Daniel said.
Daniel made his way over and discovered that the sound was coming from Johan Santana.
“Is everything okay, Johan?” Daniel asked.
Johan quickly looked up and stifled a sniffle. “No. Everything is not all right,” he said, wiping his nose. “I wanted to pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic and Sandy Alderson won’t let me.” Johan put his head in his hands and started sobbing. “Esto es terrible!”
“Oh,” Daniel said. “Wait right here.”
Daniel was off in a flash. He raced back to his locker and was reaching into his bag for his orange and blue superhero costume when Ruben stopped him.
“No,” Ruben said. “My teammate needs me. It’s time.”
Daniel Murphy looked at Ruben and nodded. Ruben reached into his own bag and pulled out his own orange and blue superhero costume, nearly identical to Daniel’s except this one had a Panamanian flag on the front and his cape had a large number eleven on the back. Ruben quickly changed and ran off to help Johan.
“I heard what was wrong, Johan,” Ruben said. “And I’m sorry.”
“You’re not the Superhero!” Johan said.
“I may not be THE superhero. But I’m here to help,” Ruben said.
“I wanted to pitch for my native Venezuela. Now I can’t, and I’m sad,” Johan said.
“I understand it’s a disappointment,” Ruben said. “But remember, you’ve pitched for Venezuela in the past – no one can ever take that from you.”
“David Wright gets to play for Team USA. It’s just not fair.”
“We all have disappointments sometimes,” Ruben said. “Just think of that fine, slick fielding young shortshop on your team…”
“You mean Ruben Tejada?” Johan asked.
“Yes,” Ruben said. “That fine young man is also disappointed that team Panama was eliminated last fall and that he won’t be able to represent his own home country this spring in the World Baseball Classic. But he also has to keep his spirits up and focus on his team.”
“When you put it that way,” Johan said.
“Now don’t you feel better?” Ruben said.
“Yes,” Johan said. “Actually I do.”
“How about a hug?” Ruben asked.
After giving the no-hitter throwing ace a big hug, Johan was all smiles. “Thank you. I don’t know what I ever would have done without you.”
“I’m just glad I could be of help,” Ruben said.
“What should we call you,” Johan asked.
All of a sudden, it came to Ruben. “I am El Once!”
“El Once,” Jonah said. “The Eleven. I like it. Thank you El Once! Thank you ever so much!”
With that, before Johan could get a better look at his face, El Once took off and was gone.