Bronson Arroyo popped a CD of his vocals into the stereo in the Boston Red Sox' weight room about two months ago, turned up the volume and waited anxiously for a reaction. This was Arroyo's anonymous audition for his teammates.
No one noticed. No one asked Arroyo to change the disc. As his covers of Pearl Jam, Goo Goo Dolls and Stone Temple Pilots songs filled the room, the Red Sox were oblivious to the fact that one of their pitchers had done a slick job of morphing into Eddie Vedder, Johnny Rzeznik and Scott Weiland.
Arroyo has a distinctive speaking voice, a bit of a Southern twang with a gritty edge. When Arroyo sings, that edginess becomes more pronounced. When he sings a Pearl Jam song, he sounds like Vedder. When he sings a Goo Goo Dolls song, he sounds like Rzeznik. It is clear that Arroyo can emulate famous vocalists. But as an artist, he wants to develop his own sound, not become a karaoke king.
"I think he's being true to the song," Harriet said. "He's not trying to imitate them. I think he's respecting the song and giving it his own style."
When a visitor listened to a handful of Arroyo's cover songs and told him they sounded like the originals, Arroyo did not disagree. Damon, who sings backup on the Boston staple "Dirty Water" by the Standells, said Arroyo was talented enough to be a full-time singer if he had the desire.
"I'm jealous of him," Damon said. "Baseball players want to be rock stars, and rock stars want to baseball players. He's both."
And the darling Jose Reyes enjoys the home cooking of his mommy and daddy.
The teammates who once questioned his courage are mostly gone, replaced by those who share his Hispanic heritage. The desolate hotel room has also been replaced by a bustling home where his parents plan to stay all season, his father watching Mets games and his mother cooking her son's favorite Dominican specialties.
The Mets are starting to understand him better, perhaps because so many of them speak the same language. Reyes banters in Spanish with Martínez, dresses like him, even carries a handbag like him.