Minnesota has brought former major league outfielder Jason Lane in for the new year, but it is as a left-handed pitcher after he went 9-5 with a 3.17 earned run average as a starter for the Atlantic League's Sugar Land (TX)Skeeters last summer.
It will be quite a story if Lane, who turns 36 in two weeks, returns to the major leagues at some point in the future as a hurler because of his 497 games in the National League as a position player, including a World Series performance with Houston.
Lane was named the Skeeters' Most Valuable Player, which was fitting since he led the first-year staff in innings (110.2) and played 61 games in the regular lineup, hitting .275 with nine home runs.
For now, the Twins have Lane on their Double-A roster (New Britain, CT), but with his conversion to the mound, their need for pitching and his reputation it is difficult to believe they will not give him a look during spring training.
Meanwhile, another of Sugar Land's "name" starters (no, not Roger Clemens) is getting opportunities to regain his major league touch in winter baseball. Scott Kazmir has started four times in Puerto Rico, and while he has lost his only two decisions he has struck out 21 hitters and walked only six in 19.1 innings while posting a 5.12 ERA.
TWO MORE SPRING TRAINING INVITATIONS AND TWO MORE SIGNINGS
Our subscription-only Independent Baseball Insider had barely been published when we learned of two more invitations to major league spring training camps for players with brief stops with Indy teams. They may be first-time invitees, too, Milwaukee is bringing in right-handed pitcher Darren Byrd, formerly of the American Association's Fargo (ND) RedHawks, and catcher Dayton Buller, once with Camden, NJ of the Atlantic League.
Two of last season's invitees have signed new contracts, and seem likely to appear in spring training games at some point. Atlanta brought back catcher Jose Yepez, who was at Pensacola, FL (American Association) at one time as well as with Gary, IN when that American Association city was still in the Northern League.
Longtime Indy hurler Chris Jakubauskas (American Association, Golden League and Frontier League) has signed a Triple-A pact with Milwaukee. Jakubauskas has an 8-10 record for 69 major league appearances with three different teams. He split '12 between the top Arizona and Toronto minor league clubs.
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