March 5, 2008 – Ray Navarrete/Mike Church Talk March 5, 2008Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
ALB Is The Place To Be This Week: In addition to today’s frequently requested interview with Ray Navarrete and our chat with Mike Church, we’ve got three player interviews coming up in the next three days. We know you want to hear from the players directly, and trust me when I tell you we try really hard to do that for you.
You want to hear from a guy new to the league with a World Series ring? You got it.
Want to hear from a Patriots pitcher who might jump into the rotation? Sure thing.
What does Somerset’s newest infielder think about finally having a home? You’ll find out.
For anyone who follows my print work, all three players will be featured in the Democrat next week as well.
Scott already brought you his chat with Bobby Hill, but I spoke to him for a feature for the paper, and you’ll see that this weekend. We’re also working on getting a few players from Bridgeport, Lancaster, York, and Long Island.
Speaking of interviews and the Ducks, here’s today’s chat with Ray Navarette…
Navarrete Talks About Signing With Ducks: I spoke to Ray Navarrete this afternoon, and all the people who ask about him in the comments section will be happy to know that he’s coming back to Long Island this season, along with Pete Rose, Jr.
Navarrete hit .307 for the Ducks last season, and led the league in runs, doubles and extra base hits. Despite that standout year, he couldn’t get picked up this off-season. But the 29-year-old was only looking forward to improving for the 2008 season.
“I’m always excited at the start of a new baseball season,” Navarrete told me.
“I really enjoyed playing in Long Island, it’s like a second home to me now. I’m excited to go back.”
Navarrete played at six different defensive positions last season, but told me that he enjoyed the role because it was something that he’d been used to even during his college days at Seton Hall.
So he can play everywhere, hit over .300 and score more runs than anyone else in the league? Is he surprised that he has to come back after a year like that?
“I don’t know if surprised is the word, more so disappointed.” he said.
“I felt like I showed I was capable of helping out an organization at the Double-A or Triple-A level. But I’m not the only player in this league who put up solid numbers and didn’t sign with an organization. Last season was like a stepping stone for me, it was my first time playing every day in a few years. This year, I just want to continue to get better and be the best I can be.”
In the meantime, Navarrete has been busy focusing on his successful clothing line, Digmi. But he hasn’t had any thoughts about giving up baseball to focus 24/7 on that just yet.
“I’ve been too close to walk away, especially after a season like last year,” Navarrete said.
Navarrete told me that he felt like Digmi’s progress has mirrored his baseball career, saying that the company is “one good break” away from getting their clothing in some major retail stores, just how he’s been one good break away from achieving his dream of playing in the big leagues.
He also reiterated that he didn’t want people to get the wrong idea, and that while he hopes his business will take off in the near future, his passion is baseball and his goal is still to reach the Majors.
Rose Returns To Long Island: (Modified PR) The Long Island Ducks today announced the signing of infielder P.J. Rose. Rose hit .342, set a new career high and Ducks record with 155 hits, posted 14 home runs and drove in 95. The 19-year-veteran’s batting average was good for fourth in the Atlantic League, and his RBI total was the second-highest in team history.
“P.J. not only brings great production to our team, he’s also an incredible leader in the clubhouse,” says Ducks manager Dave LaPoint.
Rose is a veteran of 1,779 minor league games, including 235 with the Ducks in 2005 and 2007. Last season, he finished second in the Atlantic League in hits (155). The Cincinnati native’s best season came in 1997, when a .308 average, 25 home runs, 31 doubles, and 98 RBI with Chattanooga (AA, Reds) earned him a September call-up to the big leagues, where he appeared in 11 contests with his hometown team, the Cincinnati Reds. Rose was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 12th round of the 1988 draft.
Bridgeport Goes To Church: When the Can-Am League’s New Haven County Cutters folded a few days before Halloween, Mike Church was out of a job. Church, a former player in the league, had managed the squad for the past three seasons and had also put together the roster.
Coincidentally, the Bridgeport Bluefish needed a new Director of Baseball Operations after BASA disbanded following the 2007 season.
He interviewed with Bluefish GM Todd Marlin in December, and had landed the job by January.
Church’s first move was to re-sign Jay Caligiuri, who hit .320 with 14 home runs and 78 RBI for the Bluefish last year.
“Jay was one of the guys where Tommy John said, ‘I want this guy back,'” Church said.
“I’ve never seen Jay play, but he’s a good player, and Tommy said he’s a quality guy in the clubhouse as well.”
Church said he anticipates anywhere from 8-10 players from last year’s team to return, and that he has a handful of additional contracts out right now.
“Tommy, Todd and I are all on the same page,” Church said.
“I’ll do the best I can to fill the holes we need to fill, and I’m always talking to the both of them to get their input.”
It didn’t seem like Church was too committed to bringing in any of his players from New Haven, although you can’t rule out a few of them popping up on the roster.
“At this point, you don’t really need to go to the other leagues,” he said.
Church said that for players who either were released this off-season or players who will be released in spring training, that the Atlantic League is their best option, and that some of the focus will be on trying to acquire those players.
Anderson To White Sox: P Matt Anderson, the former first overall pick in the draft who briefly pitched with the Bridgeport Bluefish, has signed a deal with the Chicago White Sox. He hasn’t pitched since his 2006 stint in Connecticut, where he went 1-1 with a 4.11 ERA and 2 saves in 15 appearances.
Kinkade Signs Deal With Mariners: 3B Mike Kinkade, who spent about a week with the Somerset Patriots before getting picked up by the New York Yankees, has agreed to terms with the Seattle Mariners. Kinkade played in just six games for Somerset, hitting .350 with no home runs and two RBI.
Barnstormers Stuff: While I still hope to get Dominick Ambrosini at some point, you should check out Jason Guarente’s blog. His latest entry brings you the thoughts of new manager Von Hayes on the team’s first signings.
Speaking of the Barnstormers, former Lancaster C Alex Derhak has signed with the El Paso Diablos of the American Association. Derhak went 0-for-18 in eight games for the Barnstormers in 2006.
He’s played in the Frontier, United and Northern Leagues as well.
Signings Chart: The 2008 team-by-team signing chart is now included on the list of links to your right. It is updated as soon as signings become official, so if you want to know what teams have what players, that’s the place to go. – Mike Ashmore