Ezequiel Carrera has had a journeyman’s career in baseball, even though he’s only 28 years old. ‘Zeke’ as many of his Blue Jay teammates call him, has played for five different organizations in five MLB stops. For many of those games he has been in the outfield with a lot on his mind. Carerra has been playing with a hidden, perceived disadvantage for a long time. Though an accomplished athlete on the outside, on the inside he has been tormented by trying to overcome his mistaken perception that he has incredibly short arms.
“People always talk about my speed as one of my talents,” says Carrera as he begins to tell his painful story, “but for me it was always more about needing that extra step to get closer to the ball.”
He pauses, and then begins to reveal the story of a difficult youth back in Venzuela. “One of the children, Ramon, he would always make fun of me. He would poke and prod me and call me ‘Caiman’. I would try to get him back and I would be swiping at the air. That boy, and others, they could hold me so far away by just putting their hands on my forehead and straightening their arms out. I was ‘Caiman’. The alligator. I was six or seven years old, but I knew I was not normal.”
Carrera has developed a reputation for being a speedy outfielder, but his misplays are often of the same variety. The ball hits his glove, often in the heel, because he has overrun the baseball. Learning more about his past, one comes to realize that plays like this aren’t a fluke.
In this clip, we can see that Ezequiel Carrera does not know how long his arms are.
Not sure it’s true? Here’s another play where Carrera sticks his arm out too far and the ball hits the heel of his glove.
How is this possible? How could a man be under such an overwhelmingly strange perception?
“For many years it was my secret shame. I would hear the taunts of ‘Little T-Rex’ in my head and I would hold back. I would not pass the potatoes at the dinner table, worried that people would see I could not reach.”
He goes on to say his problems were even worse on the field. “I am so embarrassed by my misplays,” says Carrera. “Often I blacked out just before the catch. I am just running at top speed and then the roar of the crowd brings me back,” he says of the daily trauma he used to endure while playing.
You can see an extreme example of one of his lapses in consciousness here.
While the announcers are quick to blame the sun, surely this is evidence of one of the panic moments that plagued him for much of his career.
“I could not bring myself to watch the replays, Ezequiel admits, “it was just too painful. I could not bear to see my little T-Rex arms fail me again and again.”
You would think that such a large mental block would require some kind of radical treatment or therapy to overcome. Instead it all changed one day, in the most unlikely place, on a shopping trip.
“One day Jose Bautista asked me who took me suit shopping back when I was a rookie, and I did not know what he was talking about. Now, I have him to thank forever. Not for the suit. It is itchy and I do not like the colour. But for what happened in the store. The man came to me to measure for the jacket, and I became nervous. I told him it might be difficult to fit me and he smiled and said athletes were not a problem. Being an athlete wasn’t what worried me, but I stayed silent.”
“When he read out the sleeve measurement to the tailor and said ’33 inches,’ I was shocked. I asked him if he was sure that was right, since it seemed very long. He said it was about average. Tears came to my eyes. Average. My arms did not resemble an alligator’s after all!”
Sure, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. “Sometimes I start to sprint for the ball, and then I catch a glimpse of the ’33 inches’ written on my wrist, and I realize, too late, I have been betrayed by my insticts, and overrun the ball again.”
In this clip you can see Ezequiel pull his arm back at the last second, trying to adjust to his new reality while simultaneously holding down a job in the Major Leagues.
Finally though, for Carrera, the light has gone on. He has a new perception, not unlike the man with 2D vision who was cured by watching a 3D movie. Freed from the limitations of his own mind, Carrera has been able to make great leaps forward, and great leaping catches.
Carrera smiles a lot when he talks about the diving catch. He knows that he can finally ‘reach’ his full potential.
In case you somehow couldn’t figure it out, this is not at all real, and all of the quotes above are completely fictional.
Lead Photo: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports