Ex-Baylor star Massey gets taste of big leagues

Ex-Baylor star Massey gets taste of big leagues

April 4th, 2013 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

Tyler Massey got his first big league home run last week.

It won't count in the records, but the ex-Baylor player hit the dinger while playing in an exhibition game for the Colorado Rockies.

In his first at-bat in a big league environment and on a 1-0 pitch, Massey drilled the shot off Milwaukee's Chris Jakubauskas, who now is on the Brewers' Class AAA team in Nashville.

"He missed with a curve on the first pitch and then came in with a fastball," Massey said. "My bat broke on the swing. I'd never done that before either -- broken a bat on a home run."

Massey had been playing in a Class High-A game on one of the back fields at the Rockies' complex when one of the front office folks showed up and asked to speak with him.

"He asked me how I felt and I said fine and then he told me they needed me at the big-league field. They [golf] carted me over, got me a uniform and I got in the dugout in the second inning," the first baseman-turned-outfielder said.

Charlie Blackmon, who was to play the game's final four innings, had the flu so after Michael Cuddyer got his two plate appearances, Massey entered the game in the fifth.

"Spring training is a lot more dialed back but it gave me a taste of what it could be like," he said.

He went 1-for-2, striking out on a 3-2 count in his second at-bat.

Still, he got big-league per diem for the day (87.50) and went out that night and spent half of it on what he called "a good meal." Per diem for minor leaguers, by the way, is slightly more than $10 per day, he said.

Massey and former Bradley Central catcher Ryan Casteel have moved up again in the Rockies' system, shifting from Low-A Asheville, N.C. to High-A Modesto, Calif.

McClain's dad

Kevin McClain, father of Ooltewah's Yale-bound pitcher Jackson McClain, was once a pretty good player in his own right.

Good enough to start for Stanford as a sophomore. Alas, it didn't last. Taken out late in an early season game to allow a younger player a chance on the field, McClain could only watch as that youngster grabbed a ball in the right-field corner, whirled and threw a knee-high fastball to third base to nail the runner.

The youngster, who once played for the Yankees, later made a name for himself in both college and professional football circles -- former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway.

After that, McClain, who didn't want to ride the bench for three years, devoted most of his time to his studies.

He had some other notable Stanford teammates including Paul Zuvella (Braves, Indians, Yankees, Royals 1982-1991), Steve Buechele (Rangers, Cubs, Pirates 1985-1995) and Mike Aldrete (Giants, Athletics, Expos, Indians, Angels 1986-1996), who is now bench coach for the Cardinals.

Heckathorn in Nashville

Former Ringgold pitcher Kyle Heckathorn is with Milwaukee's Class AAA team in Nashville.

It's a step up for the 24-year-old Kennesaw State product, who pitched last year for Class AA Huntsville in the Southern League.

Close at Riverdale

For Ooltewah it was close but no cigar in Riverdale's tournament last week.

"We played three pretty good teams and lost three close games," Owls coach Brian Hitchcock said.

They lost to Germantown 6-3 after leaving the bases loaded three times, then to Oakland 3-1 and then to host and eventual champ Riverdale 3-1 after leading 1-0 in the sixth.

East Hamilton was 2-2, losing 9-1 to Smyrna, beating Murfreesboro Central Magnet 5-3, falling to Middle Tennessee Christian 6-2 and then besting Shelbyville Central 6-0.

"Central Magnet is a better team than the school name might lead you to believe. They're coached by Buddy Powers, who used to be the Riverdale coach," East Hamilton coach Steve Garland said. "Our last two games were rain-shortened but we probably played the best game we've played in a long time against Shelbyville."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765.