MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL UPDATE
Thursday 8 March 2007
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SILVER AND GOLD
Deeble Led Aussies in ’04
Games and Helped Sox Land Dice-K
Gordon Edes, The Boston
Globe – 2 March
She had sent him to the back
of the line when he'd come for his baseball
"You're not an athlete," she
had sneered, "you're a coach."
And so he was left with
this. Pants too small for a Little Leaguer.
The shirt? "You could have fit two Big Papis
inside," Jon Deeble said.
Deeble was an Aussie in
Athens, coaching a team seemingly as ill fit
for the odyssey that lay ahead as the size
26 pants and XXXL shirt he'd just been
handed. Only four years earlier, in the
Sydney Olympics, Australia had held the
home-field advantage, and finished next to
Every Aussie team was
assigned a hero that Olympics to serve as an
unofficial mascot and cheerleader. The
Aussie baseball team got Peter Brock, the
legendary auto racer. "Our Dale [Earnhardt],"
Deeble said of Brock, who died last year in
a crash .
Brock was gung-ho when it
started, said he'd take the boys for a spin
in his car, but after the Aussies were
beaten in their first game, Brock vanished.
"Give us Neville Nobody," Deeble had said
this go-round. "The lowest-profile guy you
"They gave us Russell Mark.
He's a shooter ."
Mark was a gold-medal
marksman, assigned to one of the great long
shots in Olympic history. Americans can have
their Miracle on Ice. In 2004, Deeble and
his blokes were about to fashion one of the
most improbable runs to Olympic glory as any
team in any sport ever had, one that would
require them to beat Japan twice, including
a 1-0 win against Daisuke Matsuzaka, and
brought them face to face with mighty Cuba
in a gold-medal game they might have won if
not for a terrible umpiring call.
Deeble would again come face
to face with Matsuzaka, this time while
working for the Red Sox. As the director of
Pacific Rim scouting, he dogged Matsuzaka
for years and laid the groundwork for the
Sox' successful quest to acquire the
No one is more zealous than
Deeble in his belief that Matsuzaka will be
as dominating in the big leagues as he was
against the rest of the world. But for one
incredible day in Athens, Dice-K, despite
striking out 14, could not conquer Deeble's
For the rest of this lengthy article click
BLACKLEY GETTING CLOSER TO
hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2004
When Travis Blackley
(Cheltenham VIC) made his Major League debut
against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on
July 1, 2004, he was a wide-eyed,
fuzzy-faced kid from Australia, full of
Two months later, he was
shell-shocked, injured and wondering if he
would ever throw another pitch in the big
leagues. He still hasn't made it all the way
back, but he's getting closer and feels good
about his chances of resuming a rudely
"I feel like I am,
playing-wise, in better shape now than at
any time in my career," he said. "Everything
is coming along good."
A lot has changed since that
sun-splashed afternoon at Safeco, where he
held the Rangers to one run over five
innings and was the winning pitcher in the
Mariners' 8-4 victory in front of 35,966
fans who welcomed him to The Show.
Blackley now has a wife and
son, a short haircut, and the
wildest-looking tattoo on his left leg that
you'd ever want to see. But he still has
just one Major League victory.
The tattoo required three
six-hour sessions which hurt quite a bit.
But that's nothing compared to what he's
gone through the past three years trying to
get back to where he was as a 21-year-old
Sitting in front of his
locker at the Peoria Sports Complex, the
24-year-old talked about his past, the
future and points in between. He realizes
now that he probably was promoted to the
big-leagues before he was ready, and still
remembers the exact date of a game he calls,
"Hand Out Bombs Day".
That would be July 16, 2004,
when the Cleveland Indians rocked him for
three home runs and seven runs in two
innings at Safeco en route to an 18-6
That brief outing proved
something to Blackley.
"I really thought I was
ready when I was called up," he said, "But
looking back, I don't think I was."
In retrospect, Blackley
believes he didn't experience enough
adversity in the Minor Leagues to prepare
him for rough outings in the Majors. He just
didn't know how to handle it, and the fact
his arm gave out was the final blow.
"I had always won and had a
great team behind me," he said, referring to
his 17-3 record for San Antonio in 2003 and
seven consecutive wins with Triple-A Tacoma
prior to being promoted to the Majors the
"The second game I pitched
[with the Mariners] was OK, and then I got
smashed pretty good," he said. "That brought
me down. The Cleveland game was the worst."
In his next start, Blackley
walked nine batters during a four-inning
stint on July 26 and was sent back to Tacoma
on Aug. 1st.
As it turned out, the debut
game was to become the highlight of his '04
season, which ended with him being placed on
the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis.
Further examination revealed
two small tears in the labrum of his left
shoulder and he spent the entire 2005 season
recuperating from surgery. Blackley returned
in '06, starting the season with Double-A
San Antonio (8-11, 4.06 ERA) and ending it
with two starts for Triple-A Tacoma (1-1,
His final start of the
season was a dandy -- six one-hit shutout
innings against Salt Lake.
Blackley thought he would be
among the Mariners' September callups and
initially was disappointed that the call
But he realized that
pitching 156 innings one year after surgery
was plenty, and didn't take the
"There was no need for me to
throw 10 to 20 more innings," he said. "It
would have been a risk, you know. I don't
want to be spending my life in Triple-A. I
don't mind being there at the moment, but I
don't want to stay there."
HUBER WORKS VERSATILITY TO
Jim Street, www.mlb.com –
Position changes have become
a way of life for Justin Huber (Emerald
He was a catcher when signed
as a non-drafted free agent by the Mets in
2000, he moved to first base two years ago
after being acquired in a trade for Jose
Bautista, and he's now playing the outfield
as well as first base.
"He's a man without a
position," Royals general manager Dayton
Moore said, "but he has youth on his side,
and the versatility of a baseball player is
real important. Justin's versatility will
get him to the Major Leagues and his bat
will keep him in the Major Leagues. We like
him a lot."
Huber, a 24-year-old from
Australia, realizes he's probably better off
in the long run playing several positions
than concentrating on just one, and is more
than willing to do whatever it takes to
reach the big-leagues and stay there. He's
had two proverbial cups of coffee --
appearing in 28 games, batting .218 in 2005,
and playing in five games last season, going
The season was spent mostly
with Triple-A Omaha, where he batted .278
with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs.
"I wouldn't say it was a
disappointing season," he said, "but it
wasn't exactly the kind of season I wanted,
or needed. There were some good moments, but
a couple of things rubbed salt into some
wounds as the season went on. I pulled a
hamstring and then jammed a thumb."
As a result, he never was
able to get into the groove he had in 2005
when he led the Texas League in batting with
a .343 average and was named the Most
Valuable Player in the Futures Game at
Comerica Park in Detroit.
"My goal in this camp is to
do what I can when I get the opportunity to
For the remainder of this
camp, Huber will split his time between left
field and first base.
"I'll keep working on both
because that could help me down the track,"
he said. "There's a pretty full squad in all
positions here, so I know I have to be more
Huber, who will likely open
the season with Omaha, said he has adjusted
better to the move from first base to left
field than he did from catcher to first
"That was a challenge
because I never took ground balls until I
moved to first base." he said. "When I
wasn't catching, I would catch fly balls,
but that was it. I took to the outfield
pretty good, but fielding ground balls was
brand new to me.
"It was actually very
interesting and I'm getting the hang of it.
The whole game is challenging and I have to
learn to deal with it."
DON’T MESS WITH MOYLAN
David O’Brien, The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog – 7
Aussie Aussiie Aussiie!…
Here’s some advice. If you’re ever around
Australians, especially an Aussie relief
pitcher with a biting sense of humor, don’t
do their famous chant unless you do it
right. A few days ago, when I was only two
cups of coffee into a morning, quick-witted
Peter Moylan (Melbourne VIC) walked by on
his way to the Aussie corner (him and
reliever Phil Stockman) of the clubhouse and
I gave him a weak, “Aussie Aussie, oi.” It
was pathetic, I’ll now admit.
I couldn’t remember the
exact cadence of the sporting chant his
countryman use, but that wasn’t it
obviously. “See there, you embarrassed
yourself, mate,” Moylan said in his thick
accent. “It’s ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi
oi,” three times.” Then he shook his head at
my Yank usage of a term apparently viewed as
overused by some Aussies. “Rather primitive
if you ask me,” Moylan said.
A MOST COMPELLING FELLOW
A Nats Blogger Chats with
– 4 March
Considered by Current
Chicago Cubs Manager Lou Pinella as one of
the finest young hitters in the game,
capable of winning Batting Titles, Chris
Snelling (Gorokan NSW) was a Top Prospect
for The Seattle Mariners for the past five
seasons. Yet, 10 different surgeries, seven
on his left knee alone have stalled his once
promising baseball career. Still only 25
years old, Chris is no longer swinging the
lumber in The Pacific Northwest. Instead,
number 8 is attempting to resurrect his
game, competing for a job with Our
Washington Nationals for the 2007 season.
Snelling was acquired along with Emilaino
Fruto for Jose Vidro over this past winter.
A trade praised by many fans, to be a steal
From Day One during our
recent trip to Nationals Spring Training, no
player The African Queen and I came across
was more interesting, different, or just
plain fascinating to speak to, than Chris
we found Snelling sitting in the Dugout
introducing himself to Travis Lee
, in an
amusing conversation between two players
that had never heard of each other.
Later, Snelling's leather &
twine bound fielding glove (the same one he
has used since High School) was the talk of
camp. Even Manager Manny Acta got a kick out
Chris's Penchant for Yoda,
The Star Wars Character. This guy was
quirky. And, being from Australian made him
all the more interesting. All good style
points in my book. I really wanted to get to
know him better. Chris Snelling is one of
those athletes you could talk to for hours,
and never get bored with the chat.
Finally, thanks to Todd Jacobson from The
Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star, I was
Fortunately, I got the chance to speak with
him in The Team's Clubhouse at Space Coast
Chris--What's the story on
"Because I like how he thinks. I like how he
talks. Yoda's got a good thing going. Its
just a good luck charm that I have. My whole
thing with Yoda actually got sort of given
to me by a friend. And, the reason why I
like Yoda is because I have been hurt
(injured) a lot. There have been other times
when I felt like quiting. Because, I would
get healthy and then all of a sudden I would
get hurt again--out another year. I like the
whole thing where he (Yoda) says, ‘Try not.
Do or not. There is no try.’ So, in my mind,
when I was going to quit (baseball), I told
myself I was really going to come back or
not come back. I hate when people say ‘I am
trying to come back’, or trying to this or
that. Anybody can try, like ‘I am trying to
get up and walk right now, and walk away
from you and your question (both of us
laughing). You know what I mean. Anyone can
use try forever. But, you really must DO."
What the story on your glove?
“Its my glove, I love it,"
Snelling told me. "I am very comfortable
using it. I really don't want to give it up.
I just got it repaired—it needed some work."
But, is it a legal glove bound like that?
"Yeah, as far as I know. I hope you are not
trying to get me in trouble." (No, I just
don't recall seeing anyone use a glove
repaired like that in a game before-SBF)
"Its legal, I plan on using it."
Although born in Miami, Florida, where
Chris's Dad was a Professional Tennis Coach
on Turnbury Isle, Snelling grew up in
Australia, in a town called Gorokan, a few
hours north of Sydney, Australia. How
different was growing up in Australia as
compared to what you now know of The United
“I think growing up in
Australia gives you receive a whole
different look at the world. Although I grew
up, for a short period, in Miami, I don’t
remember much. People are more laid back
there (in Australia). Australians are more
fans of sports, than passionate. We like our
sports, but there is a whole lot more
important things to do in life. Things to
experience, outside of sport. And, I enjoyed
those experiences. So do many Australians.”
I am a big fan of Australian Rules Football.
The Carleton Magpies are my favorite team—SBF
“It’s a good game. Exciting, always moving.
Its played more down south where the
Victorians play it. We have the Sydney
Swans. I guess its OK, if you are a Carleton
Fan.” (both of us laughing)
I read where at the age of 15, you played in
the Professional Australian Baseaball
“Yeah, its true, I learned a lot of
baseball, playing regularly against some
good players. I couldn’t hit worth a lick
then. But, it really helped my development.
There were some good quality players,
although that league does not exist
anymore." (Toronto Centerfielder, Vernon
Wells was a teammate of Snelling’s and Los
Angeles Angels Shea Hillenbrand also played
in the ABL)
Yet, being from a small town, the
opportunities to play baseball still had to
be limited. How is it that you developed
into a good contact hitter?
"My Dad was a Tennis Coach, I hit a lot of
tennis balls as a child. My hand and eye
coordination was good. When I started
playing baseball, that practiced skill
transferred over with me at the plate
What’s the story on your knee brace you are
“I have had seven knee surgeries and I need
some help. (how long will you keep it on?--SBF)
“I don’t know. I am working hard so I don’t
have to. Last year I wore it for the first
time, and I absolutely hated it. But, I
think (the hate) was more of a mental thing.
In my mind I said to myself: ‘I can’t do
anything with my knee brace,’ and it held me
back. I look back on it now and say that was
a bad way to look at the situation. Bottom
line, its helping me stay healthy. I don’t
know how long I am going to wear it full
time. As long as it keeps me healthy on the
field playing, I will keep wearing it.”
Does your knee brace hamper your outfield
play. Can you run full out? Any limitations?
“No. Physically, no. I have
100% movement and mobility. There are mental
hurdles that I have with it. Last time I
tore my knee, was hitting a baseball. I have
never heard anyone tearing their ACL (Knee)
hitting a baseball. So, there is this mental
feeling: ‘Oh, anything can happen.’ But,
once you get over that, test the waters, do
things, and say to yourself: ‘ I did OK,
that felt good, I can do that now.’ Right
now, I feel like I can do everything well,
and pretty much what everyone else can do
and what everyone expects of me.”
If you are playing the outfield and there is
a shot to the wall, will you climb the wall
to attempt the catch?
“Yeah, either that or run right into it!!
(Both of us laughing). I don’t know how high
I can jump, but I will definitely make the
play, or at least try.”
You are out of options?
"I don’t know of follow any of that stuff.
Whatever people tell me. I don’t know.
That’s why we have agents."
You just show up and play.
“And, that’s the best way to approach it.
The only thing on my mind is winning. So
much happens outside your control (as a
player), The team has their way of doing
business. I can only do my very best on that
playing field and hopefully fit into those
plans. Whatever your job is to help the team
win. Everything else doesn’t really matter.”
Were you stunned to be traded to Washington?
"No, not really. It happens and it is also
out of my control. But, it’s the same game
playing for any team. So if I play well, I
will have the opportunity. I really only
want to win, each and every game. I enjoyed
playing for The Mariners, but I didn’t stay
Is it odd being a a new
clubhouse where you are not familiar with
“Its never easy. Change is never easy.
Meeting new teammates is never easy. But, we
are all here for the same things (playing
baseball). So, we all have a lot of common
ground already, without ever meeting."
Chris had to go off to a team meeting, so
our conversation came to a too soon end.
But, I found him captivating, well worth
getting to know better. And, I only hope
Chris Snelling can over come his injuries. I
really could have talked with him all night
long. He is just that compelling a figure.
60 SECONDS WITH MARLINS LEFT-HANDER PAUL
Joe Capozzi, Palm Beach
Post – 5 March
Staff writer Joe Capozzi
spoke with Marlins left-hander Paul Mildren
(Myrtle Bank SA), who comes from a land down
Have you gotten over the
death of the Crocodile Hunter?
That was the day I was
leaving Carolina to go back to Australia and
it was all over the news. It was massive
back home, kind of like when Princess Diana
died. People were pretty distraught. He
(Steve Irwin) was a massive icon for
You don't think he was bit
No way. It wasn't an act
what he was doing. He was definitely an
exuberant and exciting guy who just loved
what he was doing on camera.
Ever meet him?
I've never met him, but I've
tackled crocodiles. No, I'm kidding!
Although a lot of people think that's in my
Without a doubt. He's
actually half-New Zealander. So when he does
something bad, we don't claim him. And when
he does something good, we say he's
Australian. Same as Mel Gibson.
Ever surf the Great Barrier
No. I'm from South Australia
so we get a lot of sand breaks. I surf off
the York Peninsula.
Lot of sharks. We've got
some of the worst shark attacks in
Australia. If I hit them, I hit them off
with my right hand.
You've been that close?
No, no, no! But I've been
close to dolphins. Just this off-season I
was surfing and a family of stingrays went
underneath me. I was, 'Hey, I'm outta here.'
When I see something in the water apart from
another person, I get out of there.
Any close encounters with
I've hit a couple with my
But they're bigger than
They're like deer. We don't
have big interstates so when you get out in
the country there's small roads and no
fences. They get attracted to the car lights
and come bounding onto the road.
Your teammates always ask
you about kangaroos, right?
They get on me, "Did you
ride a kangaroo to the stadium? Do you have
a koala as a pet?" The other day Logan
Kensing actually asked me if could bring him
a Tasmanian devil as pet. I've heard them
LINDSAY ON THE MEND
Thomas Harding, MLB.com –
Right-handed prospect Shane
Lindsay (Bacchus Marsh VIC), who underwent
surgery to repair labrum fraying, is in
Minor League camp but is limited to his
throwing program. He will not throw off a
mound until April.
"We hope that after extended
spring training into the opening of the
Tri-City [Short-Season Class A Northwest
League] season, he'll be ready," said
Rockies player development director Marc
Gustafson, who added that the Rockies hope
Lindsay will able to pitch at advanced Class
A Modesto by season's end.
Lindsay was MiLB.com's
Short-Season Pitcher of the Year and
Northwest League Player of the Year at
Tri-City in 2005.
AT A GLANCE
Durrington (Broadbeach Waters QLD) has
signed with the Cleveland Indians and left
for Spring Training this past week.
old West Australian pitcher Liam Hendriks
has signed with the Minnesota Twins. He’s
expected to attend extended spring training
ahead of a 2007 season at Rookie ball.
Hanshin Tigers’ Jeff Williams (Page
ACT) has a supporters site which includes
occasional blog enteries from the pitcher –
in English and Japanese: www.jeff54.net.
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