I muffed one in last week's Independent Baseball Insidercolumn when I said Lee Cruz, recently released out of the Baltimore farm system and apparently headed to the Kansas City (KS) T-Bones, won the American Association batting championship while at Amarillo, TX last year.
Cruz was the league's Player of the Year and hit .344, but Blake Gailen of the Lincoln (NE) Saltdogs had enough plate appearances so that his .406 average earned the batting crown and established a new league record even though he finished the season in the Los Angeles Angels system.
FEELING FOR DANE DE LA ROSA
Well-traveled Independent veteran Dane DeLaRosa came out of spring training with a pretty good feeling even though he did not open the season with the parent Tampa Bay Rays for whom he got into his first seven major league games in two separate call-ups last season.
The Rays summoned the 6-foot-7 right-hander to the majors late Friday after their bullpen took a beating from the Boston Red Sox. Joe Maddon put the 29-year-old into the Saturday game, but he surrendered five runs in an inning of relief, and promptly was sent back to Triple-A Durham, NC. One can hope there will be another opportunity for this baseball-dedicated hurler who played Indy baseball in the Atlantic League (Southern Maryland), American Association (El Paso, TX) and in four Golden League cities (Victoria, BC, Orange County and Long Beach, CA and Yuma, AZ.
FREE AGENT LIST STILL LENGTHY
Even without any of the players released during spring training, we come up with a list of 29 onetime Independents who were in a major league organization at the end of last season who have not signed with anyone for 2012. The group includes four (identified by a #) who got some major league time last season.
We would welcome any corrections to this list be sent to RWirz@aol.com.
The free agents, some of whom have decided to call it a career:
PITCHERS (18): Ronald Bay, Nick Bierbrodt, Gabe DeHoyos, #Mark DiFelice, Lenny DiNardo, Justin Hampson, Justin James, Randy Keisler, B.J. LaMura, Chris Mobley, Sam Narron, Tommy Palica, Mark Prior, Robert Roth, Robby Scott, Brian Stokes, Andy Van Hekken, #Randy Williams.
CATCHERS (3): Andy Bouchie, #Robinson Cancel, Shawn Riggans.
INFIELDERS (5): 1B Tagg Bozied, 3B Pedro Feliz, 1B (also OF) Cyle Hankerd, 1B-3B Mike Lamb, Anderson Machado.
OUTFIELDERS (3): #J.D. Drew, Chris Lubanski Jon Mark Owings.
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