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Ex-Gators making recoveries

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 21, 2003

Brad Baisley and Derek Thompson have plenty in common.

Both are former Land O'Lakes pitchers drafted high and on the 40-man rosters of major-league teams. And while both saw their hopes of making a big-league club in spring training dashed by surgery on their throwing arms, both have received good news as they work their way back.

Thompson, who was selected from the Indians organization by the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft, was to undergo Tommy John surgery two weeks ago that would have sidelined him for up to a year.

When doctors went into his left elbow, however, the damage to his medial collateral ligament wasn't as bad as feared, requiring a less invasive surgery that could have him back in five to six months.

Baisley, who pitched for the Phillies' Class-AA affiliate in Reading, Pa., last season, underwent shoulder surgery in October and will continue his rehabilitation in extended spring training in Clearwater through April.

Baisley has made quick progress as well, working in his third week of "long toss" but moving from an initial distance of 30 feet to his current 180. Phillies officials want to keep him away from Reading and their Class-AAA affiliate in nearby Scranton during the cold months, but he could return by May.

WITH THE CHAMPS: Former Zephyrhills slugger Brett Cimorelli is in spring training for the first time with the Angels in Mesa, Ariz., and pitched in the team's Class AA-Class AAA game Wednesday.

Cimorelli, who will skip spring football practice at Florida State to focus on baseball, is likely to report to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Anaheim's Class-A Midwest League affiliate, when the Angels break camp. He still plans to play his senior year in football as a kicker this fall.

PROUD PLEBE: Josh Hughes, who played sparingly as a catcher at Pasco High, made a proud return to the Tampa area when Army played at South Florida on Tuesday. Hughes, a freshman for the Cadets who got his baseball start in the Dade City Little League, did not play but was a defensive replacement in a loss to Florida on Wednesday.

His barracks at West Point are close to that of former Pasco wrestler Tye Reedy. And Hughes is making the most of a reserve role with a single and two walks in five plate appearances.

NICE TRANSITION: Former Pasco star Lee Cruz is leading Pasco-Hernando Community College with a .398 average and 47 hits, and former Pirates outfielder Orlando Rosales is second on the team with a .354 average.

Another standout freshman, Ridgewood grad Ronny Lowe, has the team's lowest ERA at 1.17, and he's followed by River Ridge alum Chris Langlois, who has a 1.93 ERA and is tied for the team lead with three wins.

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