Nowak leaves York for Mexico
The York Revolution received unexpected news on Friday afternoon when they learned first baseman Chris Nowak earned a contract with Mexico City, of the Mexican League.
While it’s not surprising Mexico City would like a big slugger like Nowak (Mexican League clubs traditionally are attracted to players who can hit the long-ball), it’s a bit surprising considering what Nowak had been through earlier this year in the Mexican League.
Nowak leaves York with a .274 batting average, although he was batting +.300 in the last month of games. He leaves York with 10 homers (top five in league) and 33 RBIs in 53 games.
Back in early April, York had received unexpected news that Nowak was interested in coming back to play for the Revs. He was originally expected to play in Japan or Mexico, where he could earn a lot more money than he would in the Atlantic League. However, he had unsuccessful tryouts in both places.
The worse came in the latter of the two. Back in March, Nowak joined the Puebla Parrots in a spring training with the understanding he had a guaranteed roster spot no matter what happened. He said Puebla was set to play him around $8,000 a month.
“Long story short, they told me I had a spot on the team guaranteed and then on the last day of spring training the (general manager) comes to me and tells me they can’t keep me on the team,” Nowak had said. “I said ‘No. I wouldn’t have come down here if I didn’t have a spot on the team.’ I didn’t have the money to just take the chance to play in Mexico.”
To make matters worse, the spring training games weren’t much of a joyride, either.
“We played six exhibition games – three against teams in the league and three against amateur teams. The first two fields we played on were the two worst fields I’ve played on in my life. It was almost scary. There were broken bottles in the infield. No grass in the infield and the outfield was pretty much dirt and rocks. The first two games I was honestly going out there trying not to get hurt,” he had said. “The next four games we played on better fields, but not that much better.”
The way Nowak talked about the experience, it sounded as though he wouldn’t much enjoy going back to the Mexican League if he had the opportunity. Although he did tell me back in April that he might consider it the situation sounded better than Puebla.
Still, it’s surprising he left York. And doesn’t help the Revs at this point in the year, either. To fill his spot defensively, York still can use catcher Travis Scott at first. Outfielder Michael Hernandez was playing there Sunday. But York is already short on outfielders. Although they have four on the roster, left-fielder James Shanks has been battling tendonitis in his left knee all season, so it doesn’t help if he’s fielding everyday. Plus, Scott and Salvador Paniagua have been a platoon at the catcher spot all season. Now, it’ll be tougher for Scott to get some rest.
Then again, Atlantic League clubs should be used to dealing with situations like these – having to find replacements mid-season. So, it’s likely the Revs will be OK. The front office is busy looking for Nowak’s replacement. But given that York only has a dozen or so games left to catch up to Lancaster for first place in the Atlantic League Freedom Division, it might be too late by the time Nowak’s replacement does arrive if the Revs do eventually find a player.