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He's best at doing everything

Fish right-fielder Mazzola is the ultimate utility man

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The best thing that Winnipeg Goldeyes newcomer Josh Mazzola can do is everything.

Mazzola is expected to be the American Association club's everyday right fielder, but the 26-year-old from San Diego is also shaping up to be the ultimate utility player early in training camp.

Mazzola started in right on Monday night when the Goldeyes lost 8-7 to the St. Paul Saints in an exhibition game at Shaw Park on what was just the third day of training camp.

Mazzola can also play first base, third base, left field and can handle designated hitter duties.

"I've always been able to do that. Actually, that's what saved me in affiliated ball," Mazzola said. "You have the prospect guys that come in and they'll bump you down from a position, so if you're able to play another position, you can always go in somewhere."

Last season he played in the San Francisco Giants system with Augusta in the South Atlantic League. He had a .259 season batting average, but closed hot, hitting .326 in August.

He has batted .281 over his four professional seasons and in 2009 he was the South Atlantic League's all-star first baseman.

Forney said it is pivotal to a team's success in independent baseball to have players capable of performing in multiple positions.

"I spent my first four or five years putting teams together and you'd get guys that were one-dimensional. It takes one injury and you just can't overcome it," he said.

"You need to have guys that can play multiple positions. Just about everybody on my team can do that right now."

Forney said the roster limit of 22 players also factors into the equation.

"You don't have 25-man rosters, your rosters are short," Forney said. "Depending on how much you spend on your salary cap, you might have a period of a week or 10 days where you carry 20 or 21 guys. So, if you're playing short-handed, you need to make sure you have some guys that can move around."

Mazzola said he tries to get in some work at different positions in every training session.

"In BP, I'm always running around taking ground balls at first and third, and even mess around and take some at short -- and run down balls down in the outfield," Mazzola said. "I try to get a feel for it."

Mazzola has made sure he's prepared for whatever comes his way off the field as well. He completed his masters degree in business administration over the winter.

"With this (Goldeyes) group, there's a lot of guys who can play a lot of different positions, but it definitely helps out (to secure a job)," Mazzola said. "Sometimes it does make it a little interesting, when you're like, 'I'm not sure where I'm going to be playing today.'"

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Versatile Goldeyes

OF Josh Mazzola - first and third base, left and right field, designated hitter

IF Kaohi Downing - second base, pitcher

OF Ridge Carpenter - left, centre and right field

C Kyle Day - left and right field, catcher

OF Dan Barbero - right field, second base, catcher

IF David Narodowski - second and third base, shortstop

IF Yurendall de Caster - first and third base

IF Matt Cusick - second and third base

C Luis Alen - catcher, first base

OF Jon Weber - left field, designated hitter

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2012 D2

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