Angels pitchers Jered Weaver and Matt Palmer shared a corner locker in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium yesterday morning. A day before, they shared a harrowing experience on the streets of New York that has one contemplating the fragility of life and the other so shook up he still can't talk about it publicly.
Palmer and Weaver were exiting a coffee shop across the street from their Manhattan hotel Tuesday morning when a man jumped to his death in front of them on West 56th Street.
Many Angels players saw the body - the man was identified by police as Brian Fiore, 39, of Manhattan - as they were preparing to board the team bus in front of Le Parker Meridian hotel.
Weaver, a 27-year-old from Northridge, Calif., couldn't talk about it on Tuesday and politely declined again yesterday. "I'd really rather not," he said.
Palmer, a 31-year-old from Memphis, Tenn., is a devout Christian who is trying to make sense of what he witnessed.
It's not easy.
"It's not every day that you witness somebody take their life," Palmer said. "I definitely prayed for him. I prayed for the people who witnessed it on the team."
Palmer said he was "10 feet away" when Fiore fell to the pavement. The phrase "There but for the grace of God" took on new meaning to him.
"A minute or two later . . . " he said, before letting the thought trail off. What he saw was bad enough to think about how it could have been worse.
"I'm coming out of the coffee shop," he said. "There's a big truck in front of me. I heard a thud. I took a step forward and looked to the right to make sure there were no cars coming and I looked to the left and I saw something in the middle of the road.
"I was like, 'Man, what is that?' I took a couple more steps and just kept looking at it. I saw a body, a face. The face was looking straight up. As I kept walking, I felt it was a disrespect for me to keep looking, but at the same time I really didn't understand what it was.
"I was like, 'Did somebody get hit by a car?' But there was no car. So I thought, 'This guy just jumped off of the roof. What could he have been thinking?' "
Palmer and the rest of the Angels did not have much time to consider that question. They had to get on the bus and visit Yankee Stadium on a day of celebration for the home team. The Yankees were opening their home season, receiving their 2009 World Series rings, welcoming back Hideki Matsui.
The Angels were trying to comprehend one of the worst things any of them had ever seen - and still do their jobs.
Athletes talk all the time about being able to block things out; Palmer, who won 11 games for the Angels as a 30-year-old rookie last season, said he would have been able to pitch. He wasn't asked to on Tuesday. Which only gave him more time to think.
"Let it be a learning experience," he said. "It was for me. When you step on this field, sometimes you get so much pressure you don't sit there and look at what other people might be going through. That can be the worst day that I'm going through - I can give up six, seven runs - and I feel bad. I let my team down. But it's never to the point where I want to harm my body and hurt myself."
Palmer, who is married with three children, said: "I've known people who have killed themselves, so it's always in the back of your mind. When it's right there in your face . . . "
Another unfinished thought. Better not to dwell.
Still . . .
"Let me tell you: This morning, the first thing I did, I looked up," Palmer said.