LEFT-HANDER Cody King got his big break over the winter.
King is one of six rookies in the Winnipeg Goldeyes' training camp, which was pretty much rained out on Sunday's Day 2. The 26 players only got in about an hour of work before heavy rain chased them off and a sodden field kept them off.
King, 23, had decided to not return to Anne Arundel junior college in Maryland last fall and was about to give up baseball, but as luck would have it, he caught the eye of Goldeyes manager Rick Forney.
Over the winter, he was working at The B.A.T.T. (Baseball All The Time) Academy in Glen Burnie, Md., where Forney is a pitching instructor and high school coach Larry Williams is a batting instructor. Williams asked Forney if he'd take a look at King.
"I ended up throwing for him (Forney) one day and he liked what he saw. He told me they were looking for a lefty up here," King said. "I know it's up to me now (to get a job). Throwing strikes would be the best way to do that. As long as I'm in the strike zone, I think I'll be fine."
King jumped at the chance to come to Winnipeg.
"I wanted to give baseball one more try before I'm too old," he said. "I always thought I had the ability to pitch at this level or higher. That's what this pretty much comes out to be, my last chance to just prove to myself that I can do this."
Forney said being a "rookie lefty is probably the easiest way to make a roster (in the American Association)."
In the AA, a player with a rookie status has less than one year of professional service. A player's first season of independent ball does not count toward his status, as is the case with outfielder Ridge Carpenter, who was a rookie last season and returns a rookie this season.
Teams need four rookies on a 22-player roster but only three on a 21-player team.
"He (King) is a young kid, I watched him a couple times over the winter," Forney said. "He doesn't have a lot of experience but he threw a lot of strikes for me on multiple occasions, so I invited him up here. I spelled out our situation. Nothing's guaranteed, you've got to find your way on the team, so hopefully he pitches well in these exhibition games."
Forney noted the Goldeyes had "fantastic" rookies last season.
"Last year, I felt like we had the four best rookies in the league," said Forney, referring to pitchers Ian Thomas and Chad Benefield, Carpenter and infielder Price Kendall, who was named the American Association's rookie-of-the-year.
This season's group also includes outfielder Dan Barbero, infielder Kaohi Downing, left-handed pitcher Barrett Phillips and right-handed pitcher Chris Kaminski.
"We hope to put them (this year's rookies) in a position where they're going to succeed," Forney said.
The Goldeyes host the St. Paul Saints tonight and Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Shaw Park, and the University of Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday at 6 p.m.
The Goldeyes will host the St. Paul Saints tonight and Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Shaw Park, where fans can expect to see plenty of the Goldeyes' young players take the field.
"You'll see a lot of them," Forney said. "Not sure what kind of calibre baseball game you're going to see, but hopefully they all play well and we'll see a high-calibre game."
Right field will be the most hotly contested position with Josh Mazzola, Ridge Carpenter, Kyle Day and Dan Barbero as the contenders.