VERO BEACH, Fla. — Dodger infielder Eddie Williams gets out the syringe, fills it, lifts up his shirt, jabs the needle into his stomach and empties the syringe.
A diabetic, Williams does it every morning, every afternoon, every night.
"Look at my stomach," Williams says. "People look and think that's a roll of fat. That's not fat. That's callous."
Besides giving himself the insulin injections, he has to prick his finger several times a day to measure his blood sugar, making sure that it doesn't drop dangerously low during workouts or climb too high. It's something those with diabetes live with, and Williams' case was diagnosed six years ago.
"You know how you'll get light-headed and feel weak if you haven't eaten in a long while?" he said. "Well, [an insulin imbalance is] 100 times worse than that. That's why I've always got to carry around candy in my pocket, just making sure. If I don't do that, I could be in real trouble.
"But, man, when you want something bad enough, you don't let something like that get you down. Believe me, I've been through worse.
"I've been through hell and back."
Williams, after all, has played for 18 teams, with stops in Mexico and Japan.
"You name it, and I've been there," Williams says. " . . . I've been through a lot of wars. I look around this clubhouse, and some time or another, I've played against every veteran in here in some country or another.
"I've never had it easy. I've never had anything given to me. All I've ever wanted is a chance, and that's what I got now. This is a dream to be here, wearing the Dodger uniform.
"I know there are no guarantees, but whatever happens won't be because Eddie Williams didn't give it all.
"I want this more than anything you can imagine."
First baseman Eric Karros remembers the stories from high school. Karros was two years younger and played across town in San Diego, but everyone there knew about Edward Laquan Williams.
"The guy was a stud," Karros said. "Everyone talked about him. He went to Hoover High School, the same high school as Ted Williams, so everyone started comparing him to [Ted] Williams."
Said Gary Sutherland, Dodger coordinator of professional scouting, "I was there, along with everyone else, at Williams' first game his senior year. The kid was awesome. In fact, before the game even ended, one scout just walked away.
"He said, 'OK, who's got the second pick?' "
Williams was picked fourth by the New York Mets in the June free-agent draft that year, 1983. He was selected 15 players ahead of a pitcher named Roger Clemens.
"He had power, he had a great arm, he had everything," said Tom Romenesko, who scouted Williams in high school for the San Diego Padres. "He was as good as there was going to be. He was labeled the next coming.
"That was the trouble. We labeled him this and that, but we never let him become just Eddie Williams."
Williams blames no one but himself.
"When I first signed, I thought baseball owed me something," he said. "I was insecure about myself, so I was extra cocky, trying to cover it up. I wouldn't listen to anybody."
He was out of the Mets' organization in a year, traded to Cincinnati. A year later, he found himself in Cleveland, where he met Brett Butler and Tom Candiotti.
Williams stayed in the Cleveland organization until 1989, but third baseman Brook Jacoby was always in the way. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox, where Robin Ventura was in the way. The Padres signed him as a minor league free agent in 1990, but he and Manager Greg Riddoch didn't get along.
Suddenly, Williams had nowhere to go. He played a year for the Daiei Hawks in Japan and two years in Mexico.
He wound up playing two days a week in 1993 on a semipro team in San Diego. Maybe now, Williams figured, it was time to look for a job. He had a wife and two kids to feed. His future in baseball appeared extinct.
He then caught one of the biggest breaks of his career. Randy Johnson, a former major leaguer scouting for the Padres, was on his semipro team. He persuaded the Padres to give Williams another shot.
"There was just too much talent there for baseball to give up on him," Johnson said. "It's not like our league was great by any means, but it was more than a beer league. He showed he still had it."
Williams, 32, was signed by the Padres, spent last season with the Detroit Tigers, batting .200 with six homers, and now is ready to be the right-handed power threat off the Dodgers' bench.
That is why, he said, he went to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball. This is why, he said, he got up at 5 in the morning in January, drove from San Diego and worked out three times a week at Dodger Stadium. That is why, he said, he is among the first to arrive each day at Dodgertown and the last to leave. That is why, he said, he agreed to try wearing contact lenses while playing.
"I've been through a lot of obstacles along the way," said Williams, who signed a non-roster contract that will pay him $250,000 if he makes the team. "But it's only made me stronger. I really believe this is where I belong.
"Now, it's up to me to prove it."