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Article on Mike Macgrew


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He's a long shot, but always nice to see guys get an opportunity. :thumbup

 

Providence Journal

Bill Reynolds: Megrew humble about Marlins shot

 

01:00 AM EST on Monday, December 26, 2005

 

RICHMOND -- The telephone call that changed everything came on Dec. 8, the best Christmas present he could have received. It essentially said he'd just been selected by the Florida Marlins in the Rule 5 draft, an arcane piece of the baseball business that means Mike Megrew, who just four years ago was pitching for Chariho High School, is going to the Major Leagues.

 

Well, maybe not exactly.

 

But close.

 

Real close.

 

Megrew is going to a big-league camp in February, is going to be on a big-league roster, and who would ever have believed that just five years ago, when he was a junior at Chariho?

 

Not him, that's for sure.

 

In fact, the great thing about Megrew is that all of his success has come as a surprise, like some wonderful gift that inexplicably simply showed up in his life, a baseball version of finding some glitzy present under the tree on Christmas morning.

 

The first time was the summer after his sophomore year in high school. He was playing for an American Legion team in South Kingstown, just about a month or so from high school baseball season, where he would come in every once in a while to pitch relief. But one of the coaches was a man named Mark Hutchins, and one day, Hutchins told Megrew that if he stuck with the game, he might have a future in it.

 

A future?

 

In baseball?

 

Megrew didn't believe it.

 

It wasn't the first time an adult had stepped in at a critical time in his development. The first was when he was in the eighth grade and decided he didn't want to play baseball anymore, only to be pulled aside by Steven Haines, his middle school coach.

 

"He was so angry at me," Megrew says of Haines, who would later die tragically in an automobile accident. "He was constantly on me."

 

Would all this be playing out now if these two men hadn't been there at the right time in Megrew's life?

 

Who knows.

 

It takes a village? Sometimes in sports, too.

 

By the time he was a sophomore in high school, though, Megrew was just a big gangly kid who also played football and basketball and figured his sports career was going to end after high school.

 

But the next year, he was a better pitcher and made all-division. That July, he went to an open tryout in Providence that led to a showcase one in New Jersey, which was put on by the Blue Jays. He pitched two innings and struck out five.

 

And the world changed.

 

"How do you feel about playing pro ball?" a scout asked.

 

No way, Megrew thought. This guy is crazy.

 

But at his first game as a Chariho senior there were six scouts. Sometimes there were as many as 30 that spring, all there to see a 6-foot-6 letfhanded pitcher who was unofficially being called "The Little Unit," in homage to Randy Johnson.

 

Not that Megrew put a whole lot of stock in it. Randy Johnson? Please. He was just a Rhode Island high school kid, who lived in Hope Valley no less, so even though the scouts would sit behind the backstop with their radar guns, there was a certain sense of unreality about it. In fact, that's how he dealt with all the attention. He just pretended they were all there to see someone else, because surely they couldn't really be there to see him, could they?

 

Even when he was drafted by the Dodgers in the fifth round in June 2002, he didn't take it all that seriously.

 

"I figured I had nothing to lose," he says, "but didn't think I really belonged."

 

That soon changed. In the first intrasquad scrimmage, he was throwing in the low 90s, the kind of velocity that gets noticed. Especially when you're 6-foot-6 and lefthanded. It wasn't until the following year that he began to think he could one day pitch in the big leagues, that he had talent.

 

The next year, in Double A, he had elbow trouble, and had surgery in Los Angeles at the end of the '04 season. To the point that he missed last year, only throwing as few innings at the end of the year.

 

Until the phone call on Dec. 8.

 

On this morning he is working out in the Arcadia YMCA, a small place in the same strip mall that includes the Wyoming Post Office. It all seems a long way from the Major Leagues.

 

He moves through a procession of machines, something he does regularly now. It's just one of the several differences between now and when he was in high school, back when all he really knew about pitching was to rear back and wing it. He says the "Little Unit" talk is no more, that now there are a lot of tall lefthanded pitchers. Even so, he's up to 230 now, 35 pounds heavier than he was as a high school senior. In his mind he's ready for this new challenge.

 

"It just keeps coming at me," says Mike Megrew, "but I don't know my limit yet."

 

He says this quietly. No boasting. Merely a statement of fact. Said by someone who has finally come to undedrstand the talent that others always saw in him, the talent that's already taken him very far from the ballfields of his youth, and now has him very close to the Major Leagues. Said by someone who is just starting to realize his life is about to change, this life that once upon a time he never could have even dreamed about.

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