Wednesday, March 05, 2008

This is another in our continuing Monday-Wednesday-Friday series covering many of the highlights of former Independent Baseball players in major league spring training camps. Any part of the blog entry may be reproduced as long as is credited.

Same Story, New Verse as Lindsey, Gonzalez

Continue Making Noise With Their Bats

While the count of onetime Independent Baseball players getting exposure in major league camps is up to at least 52, two players seem to these eyes to be at the top when it comes to accomplishments during the first week of exhibition play.

Former Can-Am League first baseman John Lindsey is winning games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Juan Gonzalez, who last played professionally in the Atlantic League in 2006, is continuing to show the St. Louis Cardinals he may still have some important power in his two-time MVP bat.

Lindsey has had a big hand in the Dodgers' only two Grapefruit League victories. First, it was a game-winning ninth inning single, then Tuesday his two-run sixth inning homer broke a 3-3 tie and gave LA a 5-3 split-squad win against Washington. Lindsey, who we will have much more on in Thursday's Independent Baseball Insider column, also had a run-scoring single in the second and drew a walk during his 2-for-3 day. This former New Jersey Jackals (Little Falls, NJ) first baseman is now hitting .375.

Gonzalez, who spent a good chunk of '06 with the Long Island (NY) Ducks, singled and doubled in three at-bats in the No. 3 slot to jump his spring average to a robust .417. "It's still a once-in-a-generation stroke", Manager Tony LaRussa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bryan Burwell at few days ago.

PATTERSON PERFECT--Scott Patterson's quest to break into the majors for the first time after starting his pro career with four plus seasons in the Frontier and Atlantic Leagues got a shot in the arm Tuesday when he was part of the New York Yankees' perfect game win over Toronto.

The 6-foot-7 Patterson hurled the second inning of the rain-shortened five-inning game, striking out one of the three hitters he faced. That should bring smiles in Sauget, IL, where the 28-year-old righthander started his career with the Gateway Grizzlies, and at Lancaster, PA where he turned into a power closer in 2005-06. The outing probably made the post-game food taste better Tuesday, even though it was a road game in Dunedin, FL. There is a reason for that comment.

Patterson's first time ever in a major league spring training camp was the last day of 2007 when this hard thrower was given a brief invitation to the Yankees' camp in Tampa. "I think I was more amazed by the food (than anything else)," Patterson told me this winter. "I can eat with the best of them."

Patterson vowed not to change anything in his routine this spring even though he is now on the 40-man roster. "I'm not going to be amazed," he said. Let's hope he can stay that way as he bids for a major league bullpen job. is just a click away. Have you visited today to see what is for sale?

HAYNES, CARRASCO FIGHTING THE ODDS--Nathan Haynes and D. J. Carrasco, two players fighting difficult odds to retain major league jobs, were on opposite sides of the diamond at Tucson Tuesday. Haynes, the former Gary, IN outfielder who spent much of last summer as a reserve outfielder with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (.267 in 45 at-bats), went 0-for-2 with a run scored, but the current depth chart shows him no higher than fourth at any one position in the Angels outfield loaded with newcomer Torii Hunter and such holdovers as Garret Anderson, Gary Matthews, Vladimir Guerrero, Reggie Willits and Juan Rivera. The Angels have given the 5-foot-9 Haynes quite a bit of playing time in the early going. He is hitting .300. Carrasco, who did not actually play Independent Baseball even though he once signed a Frontier League contract with Johnstown, PA, got the win Tuesday with a scoreless ninth and a two-run White Sox rally in the bottom of the inning. He now has a 4.50 spring ERA. Baseball America pointed out recently that Carrasco was one of seven righthanders likely to fight for one bullpen job.

THIS 'N THAT--Everyone remembers Tommy Herr, the pesky second baseman on the powerful St. Louis Cardinals teams who later managed hometown Lancaster, PA in the Atlantic League. His son Aaron, who signed with the Barnstormers but got an affiliated job before playing in a game, doubled and drove in a run in two times at bat for Cleveland Tuesday...outfielder Jorge Piedra, who played in the Atlantic League (Long Island) last season, doubled in his one official at bat for Florida to lift his spring average to .429...Jason Shiell, who played his Indy baseball with Somerset, NJ in the Atlantic League and has 24 career major league appearances (2-2), made the most of a brief visit to Milwaukee's camp Monday with two scoreless innings against San Diego. He allowed two hits and struck out two.

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