Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's the game, not the stolen bases

Hard-charging Lentini modest about his record

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It's safe to say if Fehlandt Lentini wasn't playing baseball, he'd likely be biking in the mountains.

The 35-year-old outfielder has broken an independent-baseball record, stealing 332 bases through 10 seasons of his career and his fifth with the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

Lentini surpassed Billy Hall, who had 331 stolen bases through five seasons with the Atlantic and Northeast leagues.

The record-breaking base was swiped in the bottom of the second inning during Sunday's game against the Trois-Rivi®res Aigles. Lentini hit a single, stole second to tie the record, then stole third to steal No. 332.

With the Goldeyes up 1-0 after the first inning, Lentini said he was more focused on executing in the game than on his individual milestone.

'It's kind of dubious, like who wants to play indie ball or minor leagues for their entire life? But I have a lot of fun doing it and I feel like a kid out there still'

-- Fehlandt Lentini

"First and foremost, I was thinking about the situation of the game. We didn't get the bunt down and it was nice to get over to second and third with Kevin (Mosequit) still in the box," Lentini said.

"So instead of him feeling like he didn't get it done, now he had a chance to get a run in and get the next guy over. He ended up drawing a walk and created a situation for us to score a couple of runs. That was first and foremost on my mind."

Lentini admits it's not a big-league record and doesn't come with fame and fortune. But the independent-baseball veteran is still honoured and continues to work at improving his game each season.

"But yeah, it was pretty exciting. It's kind of dubious, like who wants to play indie ball or minor leagues for their entire life? But I have a lot of fun doing it and I feel like a kid out there still. So it definitely means a lot."

Goldeyes manager Rick Forney credits Lentini's new stolen-base record a milestone in his lengthy baseball career. Lentini has played for 12 seasons at both the independent and organized-baseball levels.

"He's just played a long time," Forney said. "He takes good care of his body and stays healthy. You know, that's why he's played so long. I think he's played 10 years or so in independent baseball, and I'm sure he'll continue to play long after this year because he just takes good care of himself."

Lentini could teach a crash course on living a healthy lifestyle. During his off-season, the 35-year-old hikes and bikes through the trails and mountains around his hometown of Sonoma, Calif.

"I've always been an outdoorsman, and that stuff is a lot of fun. It's great training and keeps me in good shape.

"I'm always on the go. I'm not a sit around-and-do-nothing type of guy," Lentini said. "I'm always trying to prepare, especially because this is a game of preparation. Especially when you get this old, you've got to do it even more."

Lentini conquered Mount Saint Helena, a peak on the Mayacamas Mountains, and has taken 80-kilometre mountain-bike rides to San Francisco and back. Another of his favourite places to train are the hills of the Marin Headlands.

"I swear the first time I did that hike I couldn't walk for a week, but it took my speed to a whole different level, so I've always went back there to enjoy the scenery and take the hike. Now I never get sore when I do it."

Whether he's at practice or hiking through the mountains, Lentini gives 100 per cent effort because he sees the results come game time.

"When I'm on the field, everything I do out there I try and do at game speed and I always have the pedal revved all the way when I do stuff. So then when it's game time, it just comes second nature, like you don't even have to think. You've already done it with that type of intensity all the time, so it's second nature," Lentini said.

He has no plans on easing up on the pedal as he looks forward to the rest of the Goldeyes season.

"We're in a position where we have a favourable schedule; we have a lot of games at home. We're starting to play better all around and I think we're going to go on a tear, take over some positions and ruin some people's seasons, that's how I see it."

kyle.jahns@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2013 D4

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