They all played baseball together at Pepperdine University in Malibu, hard by the Pacific Ocean and the beach, where some of the neighbors have Oscars on their mantels.
But the years went by and Rob Picciolo became the bench coach for the Angels, Scott Muckey coaches baseball at Encino Crespi High School, Carlo Mejia is a correctional officer and lives in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, not far from Muckey, and Steve Smith is the third base coach for the Indians.
Mejia’s son, Alex, plays shortstop for the University of Arizona, still in the hunt to win the College World Series in Omaha. Carlo was an All-American third baseman at Pepperdine; Alex is first team All-Pac-10.
Carlo drove from Los Angeles to Omaha to watch Arizona’s first game, then with the price of hotels having skyrocketed, he drove home after the game, a commute of only 1,550 miles.
Smith heard that Mejia was planning to drive back and forth until Arizona either won the series or was eliminated, so he called Muckey and they paid for Mejia to stay in Omaha.
“We all played together at Pepperdine,” Smith said. “Carlo was the best player I ever saw that didn’t get signed to a contract. He could really pick it, and he could hit. He played a few years in Mexico and met his wife, Norma. They’re really wonderful people.”
And maybe Smith isn’t so bad himself.
HAFNER UPDATE – Acta said that Travis Hafner (arthroscopic knee surgery) ran the bases Monday in Cleveland and would execute sliding drills today.
“If everything goes well,” Acta said, “he could go out on a rehab assignment in a couple of days.”
BIG APPLE APPEARANCE – Carlos Carrasco, who underwent elbow reconstruction surgery in mid-March, came to New York to be examined by a doctor.
He will throw a bullpen today then fly back home to Arizona, where he will continue his recovery program at the Tribe’s spring training complex in Goodyear.
“The doctor said everything was good,” Carrasco said. “Tomorrow I will throw my 14th bullpen, all fastballs. In a couple of weeks, I’ll start throwing changeups too.”
Carrasco wants to return to the mound this year, and club officials have said that’s a possibility, but not before September.
“I want to pitch this season, but it depends on my rehab,” he said.
As he was talking, rain began to fall at Yankee Stadium, prompting Carrasco to say, “That’s the first time I’ve seen rain in four months. It was 107 when I left Arizona yesterday.”
FARM FACTS – T.J. McFarland (2-1, 4.22 ERA) pitched a four-hit shutout, walking one, as Columbus defeated Lehigh Valley 4-0. Tim Fedroff hit his second home run of the season and Ezequiel Carrera had two hits, including a double, and two RBI. … Joseph Colon (6-7, 3.17 ERA) gave up one run and seven hits in six innings, as Lake County beat Fort Wayne 4-2. Alex Lavisky hit his fifth homer of the season. … Joe Sever had three hits and one RBI in Mahoning Valley’s 6-5 loss to State College. Evan Frazar had two hits and two RBI. … Eric Haase tripled and doubled, driving in four runs, as the Arizona League Indians lost to the Athletics 12-9.
— Sheldon Ocker