Heroism in Puerto Rico--Veteran catcher Rene Rivera (Camden, Atlantic League) is a free agent this winter after splitting his ninth major league season between the Mets and Cubs, but he has been a giant figure in his homeland of Puerto Rico, where even the regular baseball season could not be salvaged after the devastating hurricane that still has many people without power. He made good on a promise to spread goodwill by delivering $25,000 worth of toys collected in the U.S. to some 100 communities. "It has been a week full of beautiful & humbling experiences", the 34-year-old tweeted, explaining "we were able to do 12 towns, 60 schools, 100 communities & over 25,000 kids." By the way, the Puerto Rican League is playing an abbreviated schedule this month without imports leading up to defending its Caribbean Series title the first week of February.
More Spring Training Invitations--The latest players with Indy time to receive non-roster invitations to major league camps are lefty Jarret Martin (Sussex County, Rockland and Ottawa, all in the Can-Am League, and York of the Atlantic League) with Oakland and first baseman Brandon Snyder (Southern Maryland, Atlantic) with Tampa Bay.
Byrdak Gets a Degree, Finally--Tim Byrdak pitched for five major league teams before retiring a few years ago, now the southpaw reliever has taken advantage of his educational fund to earn a degree from Robert Morris University. "Twenty years in the making," the 44-year-old told the Daily Southtown newspaper. "Now I have to find a job." He has a plan: "During the course of my career I had injuries here and there and rehab processes and that type of deal trying to survive. I want to work with kids and teach them proper mechanics and teach them to the best of my ability to keep them off the operating table." His career was not too shabby, either. Byrdak appeared in 479 major league games, winning 13 times and saving four other contests.
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