Players with local ties try to make their marks in pro baseball

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Several professional baseball players with local ties -- including Kerry Robinson, the area's lone major-leaguer, who is now with the Padres after being traded from the Cardinals -- have started their seasons.

A few more local products once again will be playing in various independent pro leagues, but most don't begin for at least another month and they'll be addressed at a later time.

Here's a quick update on where some area athletes are playing and how they're faring through the early part of their seasons (statistics are through Thursday).

Robinson, a Southeast product who spent the last three seasons with the Cardinals, has not received much playing time so far in San Diego. The outfielder is batting .333 (2-for-6) with two runs scored.

Talley Haines, a Central High School graduate in his seventh pro season and first with the Toronto organization, has stared fast at Class AAA Syracuse. The right-handed relief pitcher is 1-0 with a 0.00 earned run average. In six innings spanning two appearances, he has allowed four hits, struck out two and walked none.

Matt Whiteside, a Charleston High School graduate in his 15th pro season, has also started strong for Class AAA Richmond, an Atlanta affiliate. The right-handed reliever doesn't have a decision but has three saves and a 0.00 ERA. In four innings spanning four appearances, he has allowed two hits, struck out four and walked one.

Tim Alvarez, a Southeast product, is in his second pro season. Playing for Class A Hagerstown (Md.), a San Francisco affiliate, the left-handed reliever is 0-1 with one save and a 6.00 ERA. In three innings spanning two games, he has allowed four hits, struck out two and walked two.

Zach Borowiak, a Southeast product, is in his second pro season. Playing for Class A Augusta (Ga.), a Boston affiliate, the shortstop is batting .143 (3-for-21) with one double, one RBI and two runs scored.

Todd Pennington, a Southeast product who last year put up impressive numbers as a right-handed reliever in both Class A and Class AA during his third pro season, is currently sidelined with a strained oblique muscle suffered early in spring training. Cleveland officials said he'll likely be out at least a few more weeks, and when he returns he'll probably be assigned to either Class AA Akron or Class A Kinston (N.C.).

Here's wishing those players all the best this season, as well as the local products who soon will begin their independent league campaigns.

Here's an update on one of those independent players:

Southeast product Darin Kinsolving put up incredible offensive numbers for the Chillicothe (Ohio) Paints of the Frontier League the past three seasons --he was arguably the league's top hitter -- but never received a sniff from a major-league organization.

In order to help Kinsolving, the Paints recently traded him to the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Canaries of the independent Northern League, which has a much higher rate of getting players signed.

Coincidentally, the Canaries are the same team for which Clemente Bonilla -- another Southeast product -- played last season and will probably return to this year.

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    I mistakenly wrote twice in the past week that Steve Sotak was the KFVS sports director for the last 12 years.

    Steve did in fact work in the KFVS sports department the past 12 years before recently stepping down to begin a new career, but he was not the television station's sports director that entire time.

    My apologies mainly to good buddy Randy Ray, KFVS's longtime sports director who gave up that position a few years ago in order to get into sales work at the station. Steve then moved up as sports director.

    Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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