He came to the dugout late on the night he saved Chicago's October, shaking his head. Something was troubling Scott Podsednik. He had just struck out but didn't know why. Was it his hands? His feet?
He scoured the White Sox' bench looking for a helpful face. There was Greg Walker, the team's batting coach, and they stood there in the roar of the seventh inning, Chicago's speediest player and the man who repairs his swing, trying to figure out what wasn't working.
"Go look at the video; I don't feel good," Podsednik said to Walker.
It would be an hour later when the troubled swing of Scott Podsednik somehow made contact with a fastball from Houston Astros closer Brad Lidge, sending a game-winning home run over the right-center field fence and giving the White Sox a 7-6 victory in Game 2 of the World Series.
As he came off the field after being mauled at home plate by his teammates and serenaded by a crowd still roaring over its sudden good fortune, Podsednik found himself in front of Greg Walker once more.
"I presume you feel better now?" Walker asked.
There probably wasn't an unlikelier player for such walk-off heroics. Podsednik came to the White Sox in the offseason determined to become something more of a leadoff hitter, a player who slaps at the ball, walks and steals lots of bases. He asked Walker to help him become better at hitting to left and center field and rely less on trying to pull to right. The result was a .290 batting average and 80 runs but no home runs.
When he hit one in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox, his teammates howled with laughter. But everyone was hitting home runs that day. Sunday night everything seemed to be going wrong for the White Sox. They took a 6-4 lead in the seventh on Paul Konerko's grand slam, then blew it in the top of the ninth, in part when Podsednik double clutched on a throw to the plate from left field -- a hesitation that cost the White Sox a chance to nail Houston's Chris Burke as he slid across home plate and tied the score at 6.
As he came to bat in the bottom of the ninth, an out already on the scoreboard, he kept thinking about getting on base. A single, walk, something. Then Lidge fired a fastball that looked too good not to take at least one big swing. He reached down, ball hit bat and took off through the rainy night.
Walker watched it and thought double. The center fielder was pulled too far to left field to catch it. And since more powerful hitters than Podsednik had hammered balls into the windy mist only to have those flies die, Walker figured his leadoff hitter's line drive would do the same.
Instead it kept going and going and going.
"I got a good pitch to hit and I drove it out," Podsednik said with surprise in his voice.
"We were going to get this win, I just didn't think it would be this quick or by a home run by him," Konerko said with a laugh.
Podsednik grinned. He didn't either.
Earlier in the evening, long before he saved Chicago's October, he stood in left field in the inning after Konerko's home run and listened as the crowd continued to chant "Paul-ie, Paul-ie, Paul-ie," and wondered what it must feel like to be so big, to be the hero of the night.
Then Lidge fired a fastball down the middle and he found out for himself.
"It's pretty indescribable," he said.