Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Including the All-Star oddities of 94-year-old Buck O'Neil taking two trips to the plate and Jose Canseco impressing with his bat and failing on the mound, it has been a busy few hours in Independent Baseball topped by the fact recent Atlantic League grad Jason Shiell is stepping into the rotation--at least for a night--for the suddenly sizzling Atlanta Braves.

Left nearly for dead in the post-season chase, the rejuvenated Braves have become the first major league team since the 1930 Yankees to score 10 or more runs in five consecutive games. Now the Braves turn their wild-card fortunes over to 29-year-old righthander Jason Shiell Wednesday night, facing Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter in St. Louis.

It was less than a month ago (June 22) when Atlanta bought Shiell from Somerset (Bridgewater, NJ) of the Atlantic League where he was pitching for the first time in three seasons after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery. He was 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA in nine starts for the Patriots, then went 1-1, 2.14 in three starts for Triple-A Richmond.

With the Braves adding Shiell and Boston recalling reliever Jermaine Van Buren from Pawtucket, RI the roster of former Independent players in the majors has swelled to a season-high 21, including eight Atlantic Leaguers. We will have more to say about Shiell's bounceback season in our weekly Independent Baseball Insider column which comes out Thursday.

In All-Star activity Tuesday night, onetime Negro League star O'Neil became the oldest player ever to appear in a professional game when he walked twice--once for each team--in the Northern League game played in his hometown of Kansas City. Canseco hit nine home runs in two rounds to win the Golden League's home run derby at Chico, CA, but his first mound appearance of the season in the All-Star Game was not as successful. He was touched up for three hits and four runs in only one-third of an inning. The American Association rallied for a 5-3 win over the Can-Am League at El Paso, TX, before an impressive crowd of 10,102.

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