Reporting from Phoenix — Robert Davis spent a significant part of the last six weeks standing by himself in the middle of Camelback Ranch.
Every now and then, the security guard at the Dodgers' spring training complex would tell overzealous autograph seekers that they had to stand behind the ropes along the dirt paths leading from the clubhouse to the practice fields. Sometimes he made small talk with other workers.
But interspaced in these countless hours of tedium were memories of a lifetime.
"When people get a taste of being a hero you don't know what it'll do to them, if it'll make their heads blow up," Davis said. "I was pleased to see that it didn't do that to him."
The 43-year-old retired Air Force sergeant was talking about Chad Billingsley, whom he befriended in the final few weeks of spring training.
Davis said Billingsley reminded him of any other kid from Defiance, Ohio, their shared hometown.
"Very down to earth," Davis said.
Davis' wish at the start of spring training was to get Billingsley and former manager Tom Lasorda to autograph a copy of his retirement papers from the Air Force.
But an autograph request turned into a 45-minute conversation in the parking lot. Davis told him how he played baseball at Defiance High, which is also Billingsley's alma mater. Billingsley told him that when he didn't pitch, he often played third base, a position Davis also played.
Davis later took Billingsley on a tour of nearby Luke Air Force Base, where he used to work. Davis recalled how when they were on the base, they saw 100 or so officers file out toward one of the landing strips.
A plane had brought back the remains of a soldier who was killed in Iraq.
Davis said that Billingsley stood respectfully as the wooden coffin was unloaded from the plane. Near them were the officers and two busloads of the fallen soldier's family members.
"I was very appreciative that he acknowledged the military like that," Davis said.
Davis also arranged for Billingsley to test out an F-16 flight simulator.
Billingsley also gave Davis something: one of his gloves.
Davis won't be selling the glove on EBay. Or even putting it in a display case.
He will break it in and use it in the wood-bat league in which he plays once a week.
Jason Repko, whose career was derailed by a torn hamstring and the subsequent crowding of the Dodgers' outfield, was placed on release waivers. The move severs Repko's ties with the club with which he spent the first 11 years as a professional ballplayer.
"I'm not surprised," Repko said. "The writing's been on the wall for a few years that there's been no space in the outfield."
Repko, 29, spent parts of the four of the last five seasons in the majors. He missed all of 2007 with a torn hamstring.
Repko said he saw this as a chance to restart his career.
Repko's release opens up a fourth spot on the Dodgers' 40-man roster. The extra roster spaces are needed for the non-roster players who figure to make the team. Expected to be part of that group are Garret Anderson, Ramon Ortiz, Jeff Weaver and Nick Green.
Eric Stults was also placed on waivers as a necessary step toward completing his sale to the Hiroshima Carp of Japan.
Pitching prospect Josh Lindblom and catcher Justin Knoedler were reassigned to minor-league camp.