By Scott Barancik, editor
Spring Training has only just begun, but there’s plenty going on in the baseball world.
- Tyler Kolodny didn’t give up on sports when the Baltimore Orioles released him after six seasons in the minors. He just picked a new one. Although the 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pound Kolodny had never played football at any level, he arranged a tryout last year at Pierce College, earned a starting spot at tight end, and ended up being named all-conference after scoring 5 touchdowns on 392 yards receiving. Now the 26-year-old is joining the University of Memphis team as a sophomore. “Tyler is an athletic savant,” Pierce offensive coordinator Jason Sabolic told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “If he decides he’s gonna go be a downhill skier, he’ll be the best downhill skier and he’ll practice until he makes the Olympics.”
- Former minor-league pitcher Jason Knapp is making a comeback. A one-time Top 100 prospect who’s been out of baseball since 2010 due to a pair of shoulder surgeries, the 23-year-old flame-thrower has signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers. The 6-foot-5-inch Knapp struck out an average of 12 batters per 9 innings over his three minor-league seasons up through Single-A.
- Ohio State recruit Brad Goldberg has only one minor-league season under his belt, but some people believe he could make the Majors as early as 2014. The 6-foot-4-inch Goldberg — who turned 24 on Friday — posted a 1.54 ERA last season, with 49 strikeouts over 35 innings of relief, and will begin this season as a minor-league starter. “Just a hard-nosed, mature kid, with a really good, aggressive approach to everything he did,” Chicago White Sox assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler recently told MLB.com. “I loved the power arm, the big strong body and the competitiveness.”
- Ryan Lavarnway is learning how to play first base (see articles one, two). The 26-year-old has played nothing but catcher and DH since the Boston Red Sox drafted him in 2008, but according to MLB Trade rumors, “Boston is so deep at catcher at both the Triple-A and Major League levels, Lavarnway‘s only chance at continued playing time may be as a Triple-A first baseman.” The club reportedly hopes a change of pace will reignite his bat, which has suffered from a power outage.
- Despite going 9-5 with the San Diego Padres last season, Jason Marquis remains a free agent. The key reason is uncertainty: Marquis underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last July and will need much of the 2014 season to recover. At 35, whether he will be able to return to form is an open question.
- Former Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh has opened the Jason Hirsh Pitching Academy in Denver, CO. In addition to coaching and training young hurlers, the 32-year-old still likes to play competitively. Hirsh started one game last year with the independent Amarillo Sox, and the independent Denver Browns claim to have signed the 6-foot-8-inch righthander for the 2014 season.
- The Milwaukee Brewers are moving Ryan Braun from his traditional spot in left field to right field to make room for second-year player Khris Davis, who hit a remarkable 11 HRs and 10 doubles in just 137 at-bats last season. The 30-year-old Braun hasn’t played since his suspension, in July.
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