Q&A with Revs’ starting pitcher Chris Cody

York starter Chris Cody (above) threw 6.1 innings of scoreless ball Sunday to lead York to an 8-0 win. He held Camden to just three hits.

York starter Chris Cody (above) is back in York for the fourth-straight season. He became the ace of York’s starting rotation last year. Randy Flaum file photo.

The York Revolution and Lancaster Barnstormers played to a 4-4 tie in a spring training exhibition game at Santander Stadium on Thursday. At least that’s what Burt Wilson says. I wasn’t able to hang around for the game, but Wilson was there for all the action and posted a game story of it on Lancasteronline.com. Wilson covers the ‘Stormers for Lancaster Newspapers. All of the following info from the game is credit to Wilson’s article: Three of the four York runs came on homers. After Lancaster took a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth, York outfielder Sean Smith doubled and Eric Patterson homered with one out off Lancaster pitcher Dan Osterbrock in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 4. Osterbrock retired the next five batters, striking out two. Former Baltimore Orioles center fielder Al Bumbry, who was a York coach in the team’s inaugural 2007 season, has a son Steve, on the Revs’ roster. The younger Bumbry was 1-for-3 with a single, walk and run scored in Thursday’s game.

I was out at the stadium prior to the game. The lineup posted for York in the clubhouse went as follows: 1. Sean Smith, center field; 2. Eric Patterson, second base; 3. Johan Limonta, right field; 4. Chad Tracy, first base; 5. Steve Bumbry, left field; 6. Travis Garcia, designated hitter; 7. Ofilio Castro, third base; 8. Salvador Paniagua, catcher; 9. Tim Torres, short stop; 10. Brandon Chaves. I know, that’s 10 batters in the lineup. But that’s just how things roll in spring training games in the Atlantic League. On the clubhouse whiteboard of pitchers who were supposed to see action in Thursday’s game went as follows: Mike McClendon, Billy Spottiswood, Beau Vaughan, Stephen Penney, Mike Wuertz, Rommie Lewis.

Below is a Q&A from a conversation left-handed starting pitcher Chris Cody and I had prior to Thursday’s game. Cody arrived in York on Monday night after a deal with a team in Taiwan fell apart (players can make at least five times as much in Taiwan as they do in the Atlantic League). He said it’s the second such occurrence that’s happened to him this season. He chats about that and much more below. The Q&A is followed by some other newsworthy tidbits from across the Atlantic League this week.

To get a better read on Cody’s playing background, click here to check out the blog post from when he re-signed with York earlier this season. For a brief synopsis, he last pitched in affiliated ball in 2011, when the Braves picked him up off York’s roster. He did well at the Braves’ double-A club the remainder of the season but found himself right back in York in 2012. He’s posted the best numbers of his career each of the last two years in York, then played winter ball this past off-season for the first time in his career and put up stellar numbers there down in the Dominican Republic. He’s a 30-year-old left-hander who is back in York for his fourth-straight season, coming off a 2013 campaign in which he became the ace of the Revs’ rotation.

Q: First time playing winter ball south of the border. What was the whole experience like down there?

A: “It was awesome. I regret not doing it earlier in my career. I had a lot of fun. Grateful to (former Revs’ pitching coach John) Halama for hooking me up with it. Baseball is really competitive as I expected. Just the whole culture shock of being down there. I tried to pick up as much espanol as I could.”

Q: Do you know any?

A: “Un poquito (a little).”

Q: Did you need a translator down there?

LHP Chris Cody

LHP Chris Cody

A: “Luckily most of the players and the staff down there are bilingual. Getting comfortable there is easy to do.”

Q: I’m curious of your thoughts about possible wear and tear on the arm considering the amount of innings you’ve thrown the last 12 months? (Cody, the ace of last year’s staff, is coming off a season in which he tossed a career-high 176 innings, in addition to the 45-plus innings he pitched down in the Venezuelan winter league).

A: “I’m not concerned about it. I am aware of it. It feels fine. It feels great this year. I’m excited to crank it back up. I feel like the older I get the more I get to know my body and I know how to listen to it. I trust that I’ll be fine. It’s just being honest with myself. If I do feel aches and pains throughout the season I’ll have to stay ahead of them and take care of my arm and be open with my communication with Mase’ (Revs’ manager Mark Mason) and Fletch’ (Revs’ pitching coach Paul Fletcher).”

Q: So what’s going on with deal to go to Taiwan?

A: “Right now it’s dead. There have been two occasions now over the last two or three months where I got my hopes up. I had an opportunity to go over there and both times ended up falling through. It is what it is. It’s kind of frustrating.”

Q: But that’s something you’d consider? Going over to Taiwan?

A: “I would. I would. You get to a certain age you feel like you got to go where the money is. As much as I love being in York. The truth of the matter is it’s tough to save any kind of money when you play in the Atlantic League. I looked at it as a win-win. If the opportunity would’ve came up, I would’ve gone over there, made some money. It would’ve been a great life experience.”

Q: It sounded like it got to the point where it was pretty serious about them signing you. Is that fair to say?

A: “That’s what they made me believe. So we’ll see what happens going forward. I’ve learned not to believe anything until I see it in writing. I’ve learned not to assume anything until it’s a done deal. Like I said, it’s a win-win. I’m happy here in York. I’m comfortable. I know what to expect. I know it’s great baseball. Great fans. Great place to be.”

Q: I’m still baffled as to why you haven’t gotten picked up by a big league club the last two years despite putting up the best numbers of your career. Do you ever worry about that stuff?

A: “You hear so many stories of guys. There are Cinderella stories of guys my age or older getting their shot and making it back. I used to be so concerned with ‘I gotta make it to the big leagues. I gotta make it here, make it there.’ I feel like the older I get the more interested I am in just enjoying the moment and having fun.”

Q: Feel like you have a few more years left in you pitching?

A: “Absolutely. Yeah, if I’m fortunate enough be healthy. As long as that keeps going I don’t see why I should stop playing anytime soon. Sooner or later I’m gonna need a real paycheck.”

Q: Have you gotten any calls or bites or anything from scouts or any big league execs?

A: “Nope. Not at all. Kind of disappointed in that. I was told if you play well in the Dominican (Republic) you will have a spring training invite some place. And I was pretty happy with my performance in the Dominican. I didn’t get any phone calls. There was a potential tryout out in Arizona. An open tryout that didn’t work with my schedule. I just couldn’t do it. It was with the Rangers.”

Q: What do you mean it didn’t work out with your schedule?

A: “I was busy. I was busy and the fact that there are hundreds of people who go to those things and very rarely does anybody get a contract out of it. And lets be honest I’m not going to impress anybody with a bullpen session. My numbers do my talking. I’m not gonna light up a radar gun as we all know. So I didn’t see how it would be beneficial.”

Q: I get that. You’re more of a heady, strategy-type pitcher as opposed to throwing gas.

A: “Yeah. Somebody needs to see me in game action to prove my worth. I don’t see why I need to go throw a bullpen for somebody to tell them what I’m about. It is what it is. We’ll see what happens.”

Other Atlantic League-related items:

Arcade games added to Santander Stadium: Click here to check out a neat story from York Dispatch reporter Candy Woodall about refurbished skeeball and hammer games previously used at arcades at the Ocean City New Jersey boardwalk being added to York’s Santander Stadium this season.

Bridgeport: The Bluefish on Thursday announced the signing of pitcher Winston Abreu. Abreu returns to Bridgeport for the second straight year during his 19th season of professional baseball. The right-hander began the 2013 campaign with Carmen and Veracruz of the Mexican League, before finishing the season with the Bluefish.  In Mexico, Abreu went a combined 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and three saves in 11 relief appearances. For Bridgeport, the 37-year-old pitched in 54 games going 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA and 12 saves in 55 innings. The ‘Fish now have 26 players under contract, including 12 former big leaguers.

Long Island: The Washington Nationals signed outfielder Quincy Latimore off the Ducks’ roster earlier this week. Latimore, 25, was a fourth round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007 and has played at the double-A level.

Camden: The Texas Rangers signed former big league outfielder Scott Cousins off the Riversharks roster. Cousins, 29, has 135 games of big league experience.

Somerset: A former Buffalo Bills wide receiver is giving baseball a try, currently trying out for the Somerset Patriots in spring training. Patriots’ beat reporter Mike Ashmore broke the news on Twitter on Thursday and the Patriots sent out a press release shortly thereafter confirming that Donald Jones is in camp with Somerset. Jones’s journey from Buffalo to Somerset is an interesting one and well worth the read. Click here to check out Ashmore’s story.

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Q&A with Revs’ reliever Stephen Penney

RHP Stephen Penney

RHP Stephen Penney

Below is a Q&A I had with third-year York Revolution reliever Stephen Penney on Monday. My apologies on not being able to get out to Wednesday’s first exhibition of spring training. I instead had to cover a men’s baseball conference tournament opener over at York College (click here to check out the game story from York beating St. Mary’s. The Spartans’ baseball team is ranked in the Top 25 in NCAA Division III and is having one of the best years in program history. They’ll go for the conference tournament crown this coming weekend, something York last won in 1999). Anyway, I’m going to try to get out to Thursday’s batting practice and catch up with a few players, including Revs’ short stop Wilson Valdez in addition to former Rev and former big leaguer Bobby Kielty. The ‘Stormers will be in town Thursday for an exhibition. So feel free to check back here Thursday and Friday for interviews with both Valdez and Kielty. If you remember, Kielty joined York near the start of the 2012 season before opting to call it quits and retire a short time later. He apparently has come out of retirement by signing with Lancaster over the off-season. Valdez was apparently in camp for the first time Wednesday, according to Revs’ promotions and communications manager Paul Braverman.

Penney: I’m still baffled as to why York Revolution reliever Stephen Penney hasn’t received much interest from big league ball clubs the last two years. I get that he posted an unimpressive 4.25 ERA  in 38 games in his only season at the Class AA level in 2011. But he’s only 27, has been healthy his entire seven-year pro career, has put together solid numbers against triple-A level batters in the Atlantic League each of the last two years and has never played above double-A. Plus, he’s a great locker room guy with a positive outlook on life. And he’s 6-foot, 7-inches tall in an era where I thought big league teams prefer taller pitchers.

Anyway, Penney is back with York for the third-straight season. In his Atlantic League debut in 2012, he put together an impressive 3.20 ERA and 2-1 record in 60 relief appearances. He returned in 2013 and went 5-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 57 games, striking out 52 and walking nine. (Check out old features on the charismatic Penney here and here).I’d like to think Penney is a fan favorite at this point given his tenure in York, his bubbly personality and his can’t miss stature. So, I thought you would all enjoy reading the short conversation Penney and I had Monday after he finished his workout at the end of York’s first day of spring training. Below is the Q&A:

Q: You signed with York a little later in the year than most. Were you considering other places to play?

A: “Yeah. Overseas mainly. There was a couple opportunities. I threw for a couple teams.” “Taiwan, Japan, South Korea.” “I think it’d be a fun experience. It’s kind of what’s keeping me going.”

Q: Are you still taking online classes?

A: “Yeah. I’m taking two classes this year and then I’m done. It’s all independent study.”

Q: What’s your major again?

A: “Statistics with quantitative management.”

Q: Do you want to be a teacher?

A: “No. Um, I’m not sure yet. Maybe some law enforcement or something like that.”

Q: You have put up good numbers here these last couple of years and haven’t been given a shot from a big league club. I’m just curious your thoughts on you think that is?

A: “I’m just worried about it. Obviously it’s in your head. Nobody wants to be here for that long. It’s a great team. I love it. Atlantic League is a great league but obviously you want to get into a major league affiliation. But when you start worrying about it is when my numbers start going up.”

Q: Do you think if you don’t get picked up this year that it might be your last year playing?

A: “You know what? I’ve been saying that for the past two years and that doesn’t help. When the time comes…I’ve talked to a couple of guys about it and they’re like ‘You’ll know when the time comes.’” “It’ll be nice when I finish (playing) I’ll have something to fall back on (with the degree).”

Q: How much longer until you finish your degree?

A: “I have two more classes and a final.” “I’m gonna try doing it this year. It’s all online I just have to get a proctor.”

Q: Did you work out for any big league clubs this off-season?

A: “No. Not this year. Just all the overseas teams.” “They have international scouts and so there’s a couple mostly out of Arizona and stuff like that. They’ll come out. It’s all word of mouth.”

Q: Anything new added to your pitching repertoire?

A: “A little cutter but I don’t know. It helps with the slider. The fastball down and that’s what I was really hounding on.” (He also has a splitter). “We’ll see what happens.”

Q: Have you been getting bites or calls from big league teams or anything?

A: “No. It’s tough. I played double-A for one year and that’s it. Everybody I’ve talked to says ‘Oh, you don’t have triple-A time.’ It’s kind of a catch 22 where I’m not saying I should’ve been to triple-A but how am I supposed to get to triple-A without getting the opportunity?’ I wish they didn’t look so much at the history instead of where I’m at right now.”

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Revs news, notes from Day 2 of spring training

Revolution players had their 2014 mug shots taken Tuesday. Above is that of lefty reliever Rommie Lewis, with a head shot even creepier than last year's.

Revolution players had their 2014 mug shots taken Tuesday. Above is that of lefty reliever Rommie Lewis, with a head shot even creepier than last year’s.

Just about everyone who should be in camp for spring training was there Tuesday in York for the second day of spring training. The only person missing was short stop Wilson Valdez, who manager Mark Mason said is expected to arrive in York by 4 p.m. Tuesday and participate in Wednesday’s exhibition against Southern Maryland.

Longtime Revolution starting pitcher Chris Cody, who missed Monday’s first day of spring training, arrived in York on Monday night and passed a physical Tuesday morning. Mason said he’s not sure of the possible deal to pitch in Taiwan that Cody was mulling over, but did say Cody is slated to pitch in York’s exhibition against Southern Maryland on Sunday

Asked if he has an idea on who will be his setup guy and closer out of the bullpen, Mason said “I think it’s early but I would say (Mike) Wuertz and (Rommie) Lewis in the 8th and 9th (innings). That’s my mindset going in. We’ll see how everything fits in before that.”

Mason said it’s too early to figure out the batting order or who will play where defensively. He said Wilson Valdez will start at short stop, Ofilio Castro could play at second base or third base, Travis Garcia could start at third base or begin the year at designated hitter and Eric Patterson could see time at second base, too. Plus, there’s infielder Chad Tracy, who could play third or first base. He said the outfielders will be a combination of Tim Torres, Sean Smith, Johan Limonta and Steve Bumbry.

“The infielders you got Chavez, Garcia, Castro, Valdez and Eric Patterson and Chad Tracy. And even Torres could play short stop. He came up as a short stop,” Mason said. “We took infield yesterday (Monday) and he played short stop. Everybody looked good yesterday.”

On a personal note, I wasn’t able to get to the stadium until later in the day due to other obligations. As a result, I didn’t get an opportunity to chat with Cody, but I plan to later this week. I also won’t be at Wednesday’s exhibition because I have to instead cover the Capital Athletic Conference tournament opener over at York College. The Spartans are ranked No. 24 in the country and are the top seed in the tournament. York College last won the conference tourney in 1999. Still, I plan on posting a Q&A here Wednesday from a conversation I had with reliever Stephen Penney on Monday, so feel free to check back on that.

Revolution pitcher Ian Durham throws during a spring training session at Santander Stadium Tuesday, April 15, 2014. BILL KALINA-bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

Revolution pitcher Ian Durham throws during a spring training session at Santander Stadium Tuesday, April 15, 2014. BILL KALINA-bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

Anyway, click here to check out the feature story from Tuesday that will be printed in Wednesday morning’s York Dispatch newspaper. The subject is on the York players with the best shots at getting picked up by big league clubs this season, with the main focus being on 25-year-old right-handed reliever Ian Durham. Click here to check out the photo album from Tuesday’s practice, which includes pitchers Durham, Alain Quijano, Mark Hendrickson and catcher Salvador Paniagua. There’s also pictures of pitchers Corey Thurman, Anthony Lerew and Wes Roemer tossing and catching a football, including a cool pic of Roemer flashing off his San Francisco 49ers gloves.

Upon chatting with Durham on Tuesday, he revealed quite a few interesting details about his life that make for a somewhat inspirational back story considering what he’s had to deal with growing up. As a result, I’m planning on doing an extensive feature on Durham in the near future. In the meantime, below are some other interesting tidbits from the conversation I had with Durham on Tuesday:

On playing football and baseball through his freshman year of college: “I played in college as a wide receiver. I was pretty good. After my freshman year both of my coaches sat me down and said ‘You got baseball, where you’re throwing pretty hard. You’re only 19. If you workout and get stronger there’s a possibility you’re getting drafted for playing baseball.’ With football at that time I was 195 pounds dripping wet and ran a 4.7 40 (ran a 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds) which is not the fastest but not that slow, either. They just said ‘We think you have a better future if you play baseball.’ Like I said, God always has a plan, maybe if I would’ve kept playing football maybe I would’ve blown out a knee or a shoulder.”

On being a football fan: “I follow football pretty heavily, I have a couple fantasy draft teams. Even today we were out throwing the pigskin around. Baseball is much more intricate. You watch the game of baseball. People say it’s boring, like ‘Nothing happens for an hour and a half.’ I’m like ‘Yeah but that pitcher just threw a no-hitter.’ In football it’s just like who’s stronger and faster.’”

His favorite NFL team, meeting Cowboys players: “I’ve been a Chargers fan for awhile. I’ve been a longtime Chargers fan just from growing up in Southern Cal. The Dallas Cowboys came and hosted pre-season workouts in Oxnard, California, which is the next city south of me. My father actually worked for a company that got VIP passes to these pre-season practices. Me and my brother would go there everyday and get autographs from guys like (Cowboys’ quarterback) Tony Romo. We got gloves from (Cowboys’ tight end) Jason Witten. I think this year was the first year they didn’t do it (hold pre-season workouts in Oxnard). I think they were there six years in a row. So I’m a Dallas fan partially.”

Have you always been a pitcher?: “No. I pitched here in there but mostly I was an outfielder in high school. In college I tried out for both. In the second or third of our tryouts (in college) I threw a bullpen. After that they said ‘You’re gonna be a pitcher.’”

It’s only been three years since you were drafted by the Phillies. Does it seem like yesterday to you or does it feel like awhile ago?: “It seems like awhile ago, to be honest with you. Each year I’ve learned so much. My abilities have not changed the last two years from the Phillies to Florence to Gary. My approach to the game and the way I visualize hitters and see hitters has changed tremendously. When I talk to high school kids I tell them ‘You’re playing tic-tac-toe with the hitter. Regardless of what move they make. Then in college, tic-tac-toe becames checkers, then after college, checkers becomes chess.’ The last two years I finally found out a strategy to play the game of chess against hitters.”

You work with high school kids?: “I’ve the pitching coach or coordinator for Buena High School in Ventura (California). I’ve been coaching there. I had to leave a little earlier than I did last year.” “Last year was my first year.”

Would you like to coach one day?: “Oh yeah, definitely. To be around baseball all the time. I can’t think of having a job not related to baseball. I hope I can take classes to get into scouting or be able to be a pitching coach in high school and move up from there. Mark Magdaleno is the (head) coach there at Buena. He’s a former minor league coach. He swears I’m the best pitching coach he’s ever had before. He said ‘If I ever leave you can take my job or if I get a coaching job somewhere else you can come with me.”

RHP Ian Durham

RHP Ian Durham

You’re now at an independent club full of former major leaguers and guys with triple-A experience. And it sounds like you’re optimistic about learning from those veteran players?: “For sure. It’s definitely going to help me out here. I can tell there’s a lot of good guys in this group. Once we start getting loosened up I’m excited to sit there and just pick guys brains. I already talked to Mark Hendrickson. To be able to talk to somebody who’s played at highest level of two sports, he’s a freak of nature.” (Hendrickson first played in the NBA before moving to baseball full-time and reaching the majors). “It’s impossible to do. I looked him up on google images. I don’t remember him playing for the 76ers. I saw Michael Jordan dunking on him. But then you think ‘Yeah, but Jordan tried to go play baseball and never made it (to the majors). Hendrickson made it to the big leagues and had successful career. It’s just insane.”

What’s in your pitching repertoire?: “Fastball, changeup, cutter, curveball.”

On surfing: “Since I was seven or eight years old. One of my best friends’ dad is a big local in Ventura. He just waited for us to swim across a pool underwater the whole time. He said ‘I’ll take you surfing if you can swim across the pool under the water.’ So one day we did. He got us in a car and took us down to the beach. He taught us how to surf on a long board. Now I’m pretty exclusive on short boarding. It’s great for pitchers, it’s one of the best workouts for shoulders.”

Being 6-foot-4 did you ever try basketball?: “There’s a couple times where I really wanted to compete in high school. I just really didn’t want to get into that scene.”

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Revs open spring training

Revolution manager Mark Mason throws batting practice during the first day of spring training at Santander Stadium Monday, April 14, 2014. BILL KALINA-bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

Revolution manager Mark Mason throws batting practice during the first day of spring training at Santander Stadium on Monday, April 14, 2014. BILL KALINA photo-bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

Day One of spring training is in the books for the York Revolution. Twenty-five players were in camp on a warm and sunny Monday for the first practice of the 2014 season at Santander Stadium. Click here to read the feature story printed in Tuesday morning’s York Dispatch newspaper, focusing on the local ties the current roster has (Anthony Lerew, Mark Hendrickson, former Phillies’ short stop Wilson Valdez).

Missing from camp were pitchers Matt Neil and Chris Cody, outfielder Mike Massaro and infielders Wilson Valdez. Neil, who was among the last batch of signings announced by the Revs on Friday, was signed over the weekend by the Tampa Bay Rays. Cody is currently mulling over a potential deal to pitch in Taiwan, although Revs’ skipper Mark Mason said that the deal is still up in the air and Cody might be in York as soon as Tuesday. Massaro is on the inactive list as he is interviewing Wednesday for a teaching position back in his hometown in Colorado. And Valdez is expected to arrive in York from his native Dominican Republic on Tuesday night and be at practice Wednesday. Not including Cody and Massaro, York’s roster is at 27 players, which is the maximum number of active players Atlantic League clubs can carry through the first month of the season.

Without Neil, and potentially Cody, York’s starting rotation is basically up in the air at this point. Right-handers Corey Thurman and Jorge Martinez are locks to start. But the other three spots are still a question mark. Mason said Monday that left-hander Alain Quijano and right-handers Lerew, Wes Roemer, Billy Spottiswood and Mike McClendon will compete for those final three spots. All are new to the Atlantic League, and Spottiswood and McClendon have both spent most of their careers as relievers. Lerew and McClendon are both former big leaguers. Mason said Martinez and Quijano are slated to pitch Wednesday in York’s first spring training exhibition game against Southern Maryland.

On a personal note, I just wanted to say I’m not covering this year’s spring training as in depth as I’ve done in years past due to many factors, the main one being The York Dispatch switched to a morning newspaper recently and I’m needed even more in the office during the spring months to help out with box scores and such from high school sports. However, I will be chatting with plenty of Revs players this week and next, with the goal to have something new posted here each day leading up to Opening Day on April 24.

Up first is a Q&A with Lerew, a Northern York grad and former big league who will make his Atlantic League debut with York (Click here for more info on Lerew’s playing background), followed by newsworthy Atlantic League-related items from the past few days, including a video of Revs’ play-by-play man Darrell Henry and media guru Paul Braverman chatting with former Revs’ reliever and current Atlanta Braves rookie Ian Thomas before Monday’s game against the Phillies in Philadelphia.

Q: How’s it feel to be in York?

A: “I think it’s 25 minutes door-to-door. To play that close to home is cool.”

Q: The last couple of years you spent playing overseas, right?

A: “I went overseas the last three years in (South) Korea and Japan. I kind of wanted to get back to the states. I feel good. I’m only 31. My best opportunity for people to see me is to come play in this league and show them I can get people out and hopefully try to get back to the big leagues.”

RHP Anthony Lerew

RHP Anthony Lerew

Q: What’s the reaction been like from family and friends so far since signing with York?

A: “I got a lot of calls from my friends. They actually thought when they heard it on the news that I was going to the Reds. I guess they said Revs. I said ‘No, I would know if I was going there. They probably meant Revolution. Yeah, a lot of people saw me on the news and called me. But I think I’m going to probably to tell them I’m pitching a different day than when I am. Otherwise I’ll have my whole town down here.”

Q: I imagine you went overseas just for the money?

A: “That’s what it kind of was. Now it’s just me getting back to the big leagues. The last three days that I’ve been here with these guys and the joking around. I can understand everything that’s going on. It made me love baseball a little bit more. Over there (overseas) it was a little more to myself. Everybody is doing their own thing. You kind of understand. You have a translator but that’s your only life support. I’m happy to be this close (to home). To be able to play in this league. I could’ve ended up going to Long Island or somewhere else. But I called here first and they wanted me. So I was like ‘Yes.’”

Q: Did you workout for any big league scouts or executives over the off-season?

A: “Yeah, the Washington Nationals. I went and threw a bullpen for them in Harrisburg. Had I went through spring training (with the Nationals) I probably would have a job in double-A or triple-A with them but I was rusty. They told me to play around here, get it going and hopefully I get picked up.”

Q: You were among the last batch of signings by York. Were you holding out for a minor league deal somewhere?

A: “I almost left for Mexico twice. And then I almost went to Taiwan a couple of times. And then I just made up my mind I’m going to try to get back to the big leagues when I can. So that’s what I’m doing.”

Q: If it comes July or August and you’re still here, would you consider going back overseas then?

A: “I think if I pitch the way I’m pitching then I should definitely have a job here sometime soon and have a chance to get back to the big leagues.”

Q: What’s your pitching repertoire?

A: “Fastball, changeup, curveball, slider.” “Just mainly fastball, changeup guy, though.”Q: Do you know anyone here at practice?

A: “I’ve played against some of them. I played against one’s brother. But we’re already cool. Everybody loves everybody.” “I had calls from other ones (Atlantic League teams) but I wanted to come to York because it’s the best situation for me. I can stay at home with family and kids and then I can come play ball and do my thing.” “It was also cool with the Nationals because their double-A is in Harrisburg, which is 15 minutes from where I live and their triple-A is in Syracuse and their big league club is in Washington. It’s all right there. Being overseas and being away it’s morning time when it’s night time there. So it’s difficult to stay in touch with people over here. I’m just happy to be back in the states playing ball.”

Q: So you have kids?

A: “Two kids. One boy and one girl. Girl is five and boy is three. But in Korea they were six and four and I was 32. I guess when you’re born there you’re a year old over there.” “I’m sure they’ll be coming down (to York). My daughter is starting softball and I wanted to help her out with it. Mommy was like ‘Well do you wanna play or go watch daddy play?’ And she’s like ‘Well I wanna try softball out but I wanna watch daddy play.’” “She was in kindergarten at an all-English school in Korea there. She’s in that area. She’s growing up too quick.” Lerew is married to his high school sweetheart.

Q: You live in Dillsburg?

A: “I live in Dillsburg. I have my own place with my wife and kids. Great neighbors, by the way, putting up with me. I’m usually only home for three months. In that time period I’m always with a lot of friends. It’s always good friends. Barry, my neighbor, we always cook out. I could’ve done without the two foot of snow this year. But it kept me in shape shoveling.”

Q: Did you know anything about the Revs?

A: “I knew nothing about independent ball. I’ve always been in the situation where I was not at the bottom. Now I kind of have to start over just to get back.”

Q: What do you feel you bring to this team?

A: “Character.” (Lerew pauses to smile, then continues…) “No, I feel like I can go out there and give my 100 percent every time and get people out. Help them (York) win. We had a meeting today and they said York has a really good fan base. It’s big leagues here. Guys were just in the big leagues a couple of years ago. It’s not what people think it is. There’s talent here. These guys are big, they’ve been playing a long time. I’m sure I’ll learn some stuff from them and they’ll learn some stuff from me.”

Q: Are you close to your family and friends?

A: “Super close to family and friends. I really didn’t tell my family and friends. I think now they’re gonna find out. They’re gonna come down here a lot. They haven’t been able to see me pitch the last three years. My parents came and visited me in Japan. I think it’s cool for them to be able to drive to see me pitch and then drive home. It’ll be neat.”

Atlantic League-related notes from April 11-14:

Thomas: Here’s a video from Revs’ play-by-play man Darrell Henry and media guru Paul Braverman in the visiting dugout at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia chatting with former Revs’ reliever and current Atlanta Braves rookie left-hander Ian Thomas before Monday’s game against the Phillies in Philadelphia. Thomas ended up seeing action Monday night against the Phillies, coming out of the bullpen to begin the seventh inning. He got Domonic Brown to ground out to first base, with Thomas covering the bag on the throw from first baseman Freddie Freeman. He followed that up by getting catcher Carlos Ruiz to pop up. Cody Asche then reached on a throwing error by second baseman Dan Uggla, and Thomas was pulled for Anthony Varvaro, who struck out John Mayberry. Thomas improved his ERA to 2.08, having given up just a run on four hits in 4.1 innings of work. He’s struck out six and walked none over five appearances thus far.

Lancaster alum returns to majors: Former Lancaster Barnstormers pitcher Yoslan Herrera made his return to the big leagues over the weekend by throwing one scoreless inning for the Los Angeles Angels in Sunday’s 14-2 win over the New York Mets. Herrera, 32, becomes the fifth players to go from the Barnstormers to the majors, and second former Barnstormers player to be called up to Los Angeles. Jerome Williams, who opened the 2011 campaign in Lancaster, joined the Angels late that season and has remained in the Major Leagues since then.  Williams is currently with the Houston Astros. Herrera pitched for Lancaster in 2013, going 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 59 relief appearances. The 32-year-old right-hander had previously pitched in the majors in 2008 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bridgeport: The Bluefish on Friday announced the signing of player/coach Luis Rodriguez. Rodriguez returns to the Bluefish for his seventh season (third as player/coach), eighth in the Atlantic League and 22nd of professional baseball. Last year, Rodriguez compiled a .241 batting average with two home runs, 11 doubles and 32 RBI in 90 games. At the beginning of the 2013 season, the 40-year-old participated in the World Baseball Classic as part of the coaching staff for Team Venezuela.

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Revs signings: York signs 3 pitchers, OF

Anthony Lerew

RHP Anthony Lerew

Indeed, there will be some spring training competition the next two weeks to make York’s starting rotation. Revolution manager Mark Mason promised as much when chatting about his roster last week. And he backed it up with the most recent batch of signings announced by the team Friday. It includes former big league pitchers Anthony Lerew and Michael McClendon along with former Marlins’ pitching prospect Matthew Neil and former Orioles outfield prospect Steve Bumbry.

Lerew and Neil, both right-handers, are starting pitchers while McClendon, also a right-hander, has spent most of his career as a reliever. York already has starting pitchers in right-handers Corey Thurman, Wes Roemer and Jorge Martinez and left-handers Chris Cody and Alain Quijano. Right-hander Billy Spottiswood also has some experience starting. Cody, Thurman and Martinez are already locks for the starting rotation. With the first day of spring training slated for Monday, it remains to be seen who will earn the final two spots by the season opener April 24.

York’s roster is now at 29 players, two above the Atlantic League maximum of 27 players on the active roster, which teams can carry through the first month of the season. The Revs now also have eight former major leaguers under contract for the 2014 campaign.

Lerew: Lerew is a Northern York High School graduate who was drafted out of high school by the Atlanta Braves in 2001, selected in the 11th round as overall pick No. 345. He debuted in the majors four years later and went back and forth between the big leagues and the Class AAA level in 2006 and 2007 with the Braves. He did the same in 2009 and 2010 with the Kansas City Royals. In all, Lerew appeared in 20 big league games, including 11 starts, from 2005 to 2010, accumulating a 1-7 record and 7.52 ERA. He has a career 3.90 ERA in 198 games (187 starts) at the Class AAA level. He spent 2011 playing overseas in Japan. It’s unclear where he spent each of the last two seasons.

RHP Mike McClendon

RHP Mike McClendon

McClendon: McClendon, 29, was a 10th round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006 and went on to make 35 relief appearances in the majors for the Brewers from 2010 to 2012, compiling a 5-0 record and 3.86 ERA in the majors, striking out 35 and walking 15 in 49 innings. He spent 2013 with Class AAA Colorado Springs, the triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, going 7-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 45 relief appearances.

Neil: Neil, 27, is a starting pitcher who has played just three seasons of pro ball, all in the minors with the Miami Marlins. A 6-foot, 6-inch tall right-hander, Neil has a career 4.11 ERA in 34 games (29 starts) at the Class AA level. The Brigham Young University product reached Class AAA New Orleans for the first time last season, posting a 3-3 record with a 4.47 ERA in 10 games (eight starts), striking out 48 and walking 16 in 50.1 innings of work.

Bumbry: Bumbry, 26, has played five seasons of pro ball, all in the minors with the Baltimore Orioles. A 5-foot-10 left-handed batter, Bumbry topped out at Class AA Bowie last season. The Virginia Tech product is a career .244 hitter and has played a combined 314 games at the Class A and High Class A levels.

Other signings across the Atlantic League from April 8-10:

Sugar Land: The Skeeters signed former major league outfielder Ryan Langerhans, outfielder Dustin Martin, infielder Chase Lambin and former big league pitchers Ben Kozlowski, Jay Marshall, Roy Corcoran and Tim Corcoran. Tim Corcoran will make his Atlantic League debut with the Skeeters while Langerhans, Martin, Lambin, Kozlowski, Marshall and Roy Corcoran are all returning to Sugar Land for the second-straight year. Sugar Land now has 23 players under contract for 2014, including a league-high 12 former big leaguers. Click here for more details on all of the signings.

RHP Mike DeMark

RHP Mike Demark

Somerset: The Patriots signed right-handed pitchers Kyler Newby, Mike Demark (former Revs’ reliever) and Gary Moran and left-handed pitchers Zach Kroenke and Matt Zielinski and utility man Dennis Raben. Kroenke played in seven combined games in the big leagues with the Arizona Dimaondbacks in 2010 and 2011. All but Demark, who pitched for the York Revolution in 2011, will be making their Atlantic League debuts with Somerset. The Pats’ now have 29 players on board for the 2014 campaign, including six with major league time. Click here for details on all of the signings.

Bridgeport: The Bluefish signed right-handed pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Julio Rodriguez. Mitchell, 26, played four games in the majors in 2012 with the New York Yankees. He has a career 30-21 record and 4.52 ERA in 89 games (63 starts) at the Class AAA level. Rodriguez is a 23-year-old who topped out at Class AA Bowie (Orioles) last season. He’ll make his Atlantic League debut in Bridgeport. The Bluefish now have 24 players signed for the upcoming season, including 11 former big leaguers.

Camden: The Riversharks signed former big league outfielder Scott Cousins, who will make his Atlantic League debut in 2014. The 29-year-old has racked up 135 games at the big league level from 2010 to 2013, with action split between the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Angels. He’s a career .276 hitter in 233 games at the Class AAA level. Of course, he’s better known for taking out San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey in a home plate collision back in May 2011 that resulted in season-ending injuries to Posey. He chatted about the whole fiasco around this time last year with the Los Angeles Times. The ‘Sharks now have 26 players under contract, including three former big leaguers.

Lancaster: The Barnstormers signed former big league pitcher Chris Schwinden, infielder Austin Gallagher and catchers James Skelton and Juan Apodaca. They also gave right-hander Pete Andrelczyk an invite to spring training, where he’ll tryout for a roster spot. Gallagher and Andrelczyk are both Lancaster natives, having played high school ball at Manheim Township. Gallagher (Lancaster) and Skelton (Somerset) are both returning to the Atlantic League for the second year in a row while Schwinden and Apodaca will make their Atlantic League debut with the ‘Stormers. Click here for more info on the signings. Lancaster now has 28 players on board for the 2014 campaign, including 10 with major league time.

Long Island: The Ducks signed right-hander Leo Rosales, pitcher Jeremy Accardo, outfielder Quincy Latimore and catcher Keith Castillo. Rosales and Accardo are former big leaguers. All but Rosales, who has helped the Ducks win two league titles, are new to the Atlantic League. Click here for more details on the signings. The Ducks now have 25 players signed for the upcoming season, including five former big leaguers.

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Mason: Cuban prospect Martinez will be starter

It’s not often a player of Cuban descent has suited up for the York Revolution. Heck, I think first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Johan Limonta may have been the first Cuban defector to play for York last year. I can’t imagine many more have played in the Atlantic League. And I certainly would think it’s even more rare to find a Cuban player coming to the United States for the first time and making his pro debut in the U.S. in the Atlantic League, with the chances of being selected by a Major League Baseball club in the June draft.

Yet, York Revolution manager Mark Mason has done just that with the recent addition of right-handed pitcher Jorge Martinez, who is coming off an impressive winter ball season in Puerto Rico and is now living in Miami after spending years pitching professionally in Cuba.

There’s no grandiose story of how Mason found Martinez, though. As much as he’d like take an annual off-season trip to Puerto Rico to find top prospects to fill out his roster for the following season, Mason instead heard about Martinez back in January when trying to recruit former big leaguer Randy Ruiz.

“He (Ruiz), usually if not (playing for) an affiliate, will either go to Mexico or Japan where he can make big salaries,” Mason said. “While I was talking to him on the phone he told me about Martinez because he had faced him in winter ball. He said ‘Martinez is really tough on hitters.’ That prompted me to reach out to Martinez and his agent. After speaking with his agent there were some others teams in our league that were interested in him. We told him about York and the way we do things here. I had Polo’ (Revs’ third base coach Enohel Polanco) talk to the agent as well.”

Mason said Martinez’s agent is a man named Cesar Padilla and provided a phone number for Padilla that has a Puerto Rico area code, which is why I decided to forego calling Padilla for fear of getting tagged with pricey international calling charges.

“The agent told me he (Martinez) was probably going to get signed right around the time of the draft or shortly thereafter,” Mason said.

Mason plans to put Martinez in the starting rotation. It’s a familiar role for the 30-year-old right-hander. In the Puerto Rican Winter League he went 3-3 in 11 appearances (nine starts) with a 2.49 ERA. According to the Revolution press release last week on his signing, Martinez posted a 2.17 ERA over his nine starts in Puerto Rico and later pitched in the postseason with Mayaguez, going 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in five starts, allowing just one run in seven innings in a no-decision in the the team’s championship-clinching game.

Martinez spent seven seasons pitching in the Cuban National Leagues, according to the Revs’ press release. The release also stated Martinez entered the U.S. last July and is living in Miami under a Public Interest Visa. He could become the first player in franchise history to be picked up off of York’s roster as a result of being selected in MLB’s first-year player draft in June.

“Over the weekend I had two phone calls from Major League Baseball teams asking how I was gonna be using him and when I’d be pitching him,” Mason said. “I thought that was kind of interesting.”

Mason said the 5-foot, 10-inch Martinez is working on learning English, and he’s not concerned about communication issues with the Cuba native.

“He understands (English). I definitely understand enough Spanish. We can make it happen, with Polo there and with Limo (Limonta). We’ll be fine,” he said.

Mark Mason

Mark Mason

Rotation: Martinez’s addition rounds out York’s starting rotation, which already includes right-handers Corey Thurman and Wes Roemer and left-handers Chris Cody and Alain Quijano. Like Martinez, Roemer and Quijano will be making their Atlantic League debuts. However, Mason said he’s not done just yet tooling with the rotation.

“I have three more starting pitchers that I’ve signed and two are former major leaguers,” Mason said. “And I signed one more outfielder. So we’ll have 16 position players and 14 pitchers going into spring training.”

Those signings will likely be announced by the team later this week. York’s roster is currently at 26 players – 13 position players and 13 pitchers. Atlantic League clubs can carry a maximum of 27 players on the active roster through the first month of the season. So, there will be some competition in spring training to determine who will make the active roster.

RHP Stephen Penney

RHP Stephen Penney

Tracy, Penney: Also part of last week’s batch of signings was the return of first baseman Chad Tracy and relief pitcher Stephen Penney. Click here for the info on those signings.

Mason said Tracy was released by the Baltimore Orioles nearly two weeks ago, around the end of March.

“I was actually out of town back in the Pittsburgh area when that happened. He emailed me a couple options they (the Orioles) were giving him, none of which he was really happy with.”

Mason said he plans to play Tracy at first base. Asked why it took Penney so long to sign on for his third season in York, Mason said the 27-year-old right-hander was looking elsewhere for deals in foreign leagues.

“I had contacted Stephen many months ago, probably before the holidays, I think, just to get a feel for what he was doing, what he was thinking. He and I had some conversations last season about this year. I don’t think he was quite sure when the season was over last year what he wanted to do. I think he changed agents and his new agent was trying to work out something for him.”

Other Atlantic League-related items from April 4-7:

Former Revs’ official featured in Baltimore Sun: In a column last week, Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck provided even more details on what former Revs’ baseball operations manager Adam Gladstone will be doing as the first Orioles’ replay official. Click here to check it out.

Long Island: The Ducks signed 6-foot-7 right-hander Brett Lorin, a 27-year-old California native who topped out with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Class AAA Reno affiliate last season. A fifth-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners back in 2008, Lorin has a career 5.69 ERA in 43 games (18 starts) at the Class AA level. Long Island now has 21 players on board for the 2014 campain.

Camden: The Riversharks signed outfielder Kalian Sams and infielders Paddy Matera, Joe Dunigan and Zack MacPhee. Sams, 27, was released by the Texas Rangers last week. A native of the Netherlands, Sams made his Atlantic League debut last season in Camden, joining the ‘Sharks after being released July 19 by the San Diego Padres’ Class AAA Tucson affiliate, where he held a .160 average in 24 games. He then batted .667 (10-for-15) with three homers, a triple, two doubles, nine RBI and three runs scored for the ‘Sharks before the Rangers picked up his contract. He went on to bat .286 in 20 games with the Rangers’ Class AA Frisco affiliate. Matera, 26, worked his way up through the independent ranks since coming out of Lynn University in 2009. Making his Atlantic League debut with the ‘Sharks last season, Matera put up good enough numbers to earn his first affiliated contract, getting picked up by the Cleveland Indians 40 games into the season. At the time, Matera led the ‘Sharks in batting average (.304), home runs (six), runs scored (31) and doubles (13) and was second in hits (48) and plate appearances (158).  He went on to post a .282 average with four homers and 75 RBIs in 73 games at High Class A Carolina. Dunigan, 28, comes to the Atlantic League for the first time in his career after spending his first seven pro seasons in the minors with the Seattle Mariners. A fifth-round draft pick of the Mariners in 2007, Dunigan has a career .234 average in 248 games at the Class AA level and reached the Class AAA level for the first time last year, batting .193 in 25 games. MacPhee, 24, will also make his Atlantic League debut with the ‘Sharks after spending his first three years as a pro in the Indians’ minor league system, collecting a career .216 average at the single-A level. Camden now has 25 players under contract for the upcoming season.

Matera, 25, earned his first affiliated contract by getting signed by the Indians. Now in just his fourth pro season, Matera had played independent ball in the American Association, Can-Am Association and Atlantic League since coming out of Lynn University in 2009. A New Jersey native, Matera led the ‘Sharks in batting average (.304), home runs (six), runs scored (31) and doubles (13) and was second in hits (48) and plate appearances (158). The middle infielder also had 18 RBIs and 10 walks. He reported to Class High A Carolina. Matera is the third Camden player signed by a big league organization this year.

Recap: Click here for a full detailed recap on the Atlantic League website of all the transactions across the league from last week

Rice/Thomas update: Former York Revolution pitchers Ian Thomas (Atlanta Braves) and Scott Rice (New York Mets) made a combined five appearances with their big league clubs in MLB’s first week of the 2014 season. Rice walked a batter and was pulled without recording an out in the Mets’ season opener. In his next appearance April 3 he got tagged for two runs on two hits in a third of an inning. In his last appearance April 5 he recorded two outs with a strikeout. He has a 18.00 ERA in one total of inning of work thus far. Thomas allowed a pair of hits but held opponents scoreless in his two appearances (one inning) thus far. On a related note, former York College baseball player Scott Day, now the assistant athletic director at Virginia Commonwealth Unviersity, Thomas’s alma mater, visited Thomas in Washington over the weekend and plans to post a feature story on him later this week on the VCU athletics website. I’ll post a link to it here on the blog as soon as it’s up.

Tomko: In his first start of the year for the Royals’ Class AAA Omaha affiliate Monday night, former York Revolution right-hander Brett Tomko went six innings, giving up just one run on four hits with two strikeouts and three walks, throwing 43 of his 77 pitches for strikes. Pitching on his 41st birthday, the former big leaguer Tomko held opposing Memphis batters to a .200 average, with just five of his 18 recorded outs being fly outs.

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Revs signings: York re-signs Tracy, Penney, adds RHP Martinez

Çhad Tracy. York Revolution vs. Bridgeport, Wednesday, July 17, 2013.

First/third baseman Chad Tracy returns to York shortly after being cut by the Orioles. File photo.

Infielder Chad Tracy and relief pitcher Stephen Penney will be returning to York in 2014 while right-handed pitcher Jorge Martinez will make his Atlantic League debut for the Revs, the team announced Friday.

The signings bring York’s 2014 roster to 26 players, one short of the league maximum of 27 players that teams are allowed to carry through the first month of the season.

The other Chad Tracy: Not to be confused with big leaguer Chad Tracy who was recently released by the Los Angeles Angels, this Chad Tracy has never reached the majors in eight pro seasons and was recently released by the Baltimore Orioles.

The son of former Colorado Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy, the 28-year-old Chad Tracy batted .289 with nine homers and 37 RBIs in 59 games with the Revs last season in what was then his Atlantic League debut. He came to York after playing in 45 games with the Kansas City Royals’ Class AAA Omaha affiliate, where he posted a .187 average with four homers and 18 RBIs.

Click here to check out a small feature on Tracy from last season shortly after he arrived in York. The Revs now have six infielders signed.

Penney: Penney, a 27-year-old 6-foot, 7-inch right-hander and former Seattle Mariners‘ prospect, first came to York in 2012 and proceeded to put together an impressive 3.20 ERA and 2-1 record in 60 relief appearances that season. He returned in 2013 and went 5-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 57 games, striking out 52 and walking nine. (Check out old features on the charismatic Penney here and here). It’s a wonder why Penney hasn’t received much interest from big league ball clubs the last two years. I get that he posted an unimpressive 4.25 ERA  in 38 games in his only season at the Class AA level in 2011. But he’s only 27, has been healthy his entire seven-year pro career, has put together solid numbers against triple-A level batters in the Atlantic League each of the last two years and has never played above double-A. Plus, he’s a great locker room guy with a positive outlook on life.

Martinez: From what I could find browsing online, Martinez pitched in Cuba as recently as last season for a team called Matanzas. If this is the same guy, Martinez over the off-season played winter ball in Puerto Rico, going 3-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 11 games (nine starts), with 36 strikeouts and 11 walks in 47 innings of work for Santurce, alongside former Revs pitcher James Houser, current Somerset pitcher Dave Harden, current Long Island pitcher Eric Niesen and former Camden pitcher Jon Velasquez. According to baseballreference.com, Martinez, now 30, in 2009 tossed a no-hitter and went 9-6 with 4.58 ERA for Matanzas.

Other Atlantic League-related items: Other signings across the Atlantic League from Wednesday and Thursday (April 2 and 3):

Long Island: The Ducks signed infielder Cody Puckett, a 27-year-0ld who reached the Class AAA level last season in his sixth pro season. A career .259 hitter in 239 games at the Class AA level, Pucket will make his Atlantic League debut with Long Island. The Ducks now have 20 players signed.

Bridgeport: The Bluefish signed former big league outfielder Brandon Boggs and infielder/outfielder Cody Overbeck. Boggs, 31, has a career .209 average in 130 major league games, playing for the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers in spurts from 2008 to 2011. Overbeck, 27, has spent his entire six-year pro career in the minors with the Phillies, spending the last two and a half seasons at Class AAA Lehigh Valley, where he was a career .257 average in 323 games. Boggs and Overbeck will make their Atlantic League debuts with the ‘Fish. Bridgeport now has 22 players under contract for the 2014 campaign, including a league-high 10 former big leaguers and another five players with Class AAA experience.

Lancaster: The Barnstormers re-signed former big league outfielder Greg Golson and added infielder Jim Negrych. Golson, 28, played in 40 big league games over four separate seasons from 2008 to 2011 with the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees. Golson had a very brief stay with the Barnstormers in 2013.  After being released by the Colorado Rockies, the outfielder flew from his home in Austin, TX., to Lancaster on July 26.  He led off the July 28 game against Southern Maryland with a home run.  That would be his only contest with the Barnstormers in 2013, as the Atlanta Braves purchased his contract two days later.  Golson batted .265 with seven steals in 23 games (16 at the Class AA and seven at Class AAA) over the remainder of the season in the Braves’ organization. Negrych, 29, will make his Atlantic League debut with Lancaster. The University of Pittsburgh product is a career .280 hitter in 247 games at the Class AAA level, having spent time in the minors with the Pirates, Marlins, Nationals and Blue Jays over eight pro seasons. The ‘Stormers now have 24 players inked for the upcoming season, including nine with big league experience.

Somerset: The Patriots signed a pair of utility players in Nate Spears and Steve Nikorak. Spears, 28, played in a combined seven big league games with the Boston Red Sox in 2011 and 2012. A fifth-round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2003, Spears is a career .244 hitter in 405 games at the Class AAA level. Nikorak, 24, played for the White Sox rookie ball teams in 2012. Both Spears and Nikorak will make their Atlantic League debuts with Somerset. The Pats’ now have 23 players signed, including four former big leaguers.

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