Never too late for another call up

Published May 6, 2007

Greg Jones Seminole/Pasco Hernando CC hopes to return to the mound for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Signed by Angels scout Tom Kotchman in 1997, Jones was called to the majors on three occasions - in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

"In this organization, I need to create a chance to get up there again, " said Jones, 30. "If I get that window of opportunity, then I need to show my consistency in throwing strikes.

"The Angels bullpen is strong and one of the best in Major League Baseball, so it'll be a challenge to get into the mix. I think the best thing I bring to the mound is my ability to throw strikes."

Since joining the Angels' minor-league system 10 years ago, the right-hander has advanced from rookie ball to the AAA Salt Lake City Bees the past four seasons. Through last month, Jones had recorded a 6.75 ERA.

"No doubt the biggest thrill for me was when I was called up the first time in 2003 and both my parents were there, " Jones said. "It was at home in August against Toronto. It made me so proud to have them there to share that whole experience with me."

Jones started playing baseball earlier than even T-ball age and never stopped, even while playing basketball and football in high school. Jones played catcher through his sophomore season at Pasco-Hernando Community College and pitched just one inning there.

"Pitching was never in the fold for me in either high school or at Pasco-Hernando, but for the last 10 years that's what I've done, " Jones said. "When Tom approached me in my sophomore year, he said the Angels had a lot of interest in me as a pitcher. When I saw the opportunity to play professionally, I took it.

"My dream was to play pro sports and as the realization of being a professional baseball player developed, my desire to compete increased. I love the sport, and whenever you're at the professional level - whatever the sport - the true reason to play is the competition."

Jones has settled into the middle reliever position and despite hand and elbow injuries in 2001, shoulder surgery in 2004 as well as bone spurs the same year, he has felt at full speed the past few years.

"I don't have a timeline on how long I'll play baseball, " Jones said, "but when the time comes, I'll be ready to shift gears. If not in baseball, I'll be teaching and coaching football. That's another love of mine and I'd especially like to work with children."

Through Monday, Jones, who earned a 5-6 record with 17 saves and a 4.09 ERA last season with the Bees, and his teammates are in Tacoma, Wash., for a four-game series with Seattle Mariners Triple-A affiliate Tacoma Rainiers.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: Junior Marshall Hampton (Admiral Farragut) leads Case Western Reserve in hitting average (.345), runs (17), hits (33) and RBIs (18).

Last month against John Carroll, Hampton connected for two triples and a double, driving in three runs and scoring three in an 11-9 win. Hampton was named UAA Co-Athlete of the Week.

- Bill Manion (East Lake/Central Florida CC) connected for two hits and an RBI in a 9-8 High Point win over UNC Asheville. The junior outfielder is second on the team in average (.338) with 45 hits and 17 RBIs.

- Right-hander Jason Kiley (Palm Harbor University) hurled a complete game for Florida Gulf Coast in a 4-3 win over Lynn. The senior's 2.99 ERA is the team's best, along with his 7-4 record.

- Florida Gulf Coast freshman Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg Catholic) has collected a 4-1 pitching record and a 3.95 ERA.

- Junior first baseman John Petika (Clearwater Central Catholic/Central Florida CC) is averaging .347 at the plate for Florida International.

TRIATHLETES: Clearwater graduates Alexandria Lechner and Ryan Repp competed in last month's USAT National Collegiate Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Florida freshman Lechner was 11th overall with a time of 2:16.06 in the 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run. Gator Repp completed the event in 2:34.30 for a fourth overall UF finish.

BASKETBALL: Sophomore Nicole Ryan (Clearwater) started all 32 games for American, averaging 11.6 points for the Patriot League champions. At season's end, the guard recorded 61 3-pointers for the Eagles.

FOOTBALL: Senior wide receiver Trey Schmidt (Shorecrest) led Wake Forest in receiving yards with 45 in the ACC defending champions' spring football game. Redshirt senior wide receiver Kevin Marion (Dixie Hollins) collected 44 and redshirt junior wide receiver Chip Brinkman (Clearwater Central Catholic) posted 34.

TRACK: Senior Ashlee Kidd (St. Petersburg) led Georgia Tech to a fourth-place finish in the ACC Outdoor Championships with a win in the 400 meters. Kidd was second in the 200 and fourth in the 4x100-meter relay.

- Florida sophomore Kallinka Pitt (Seminole) was 11th in the 110 hurdles at the Pepsi Florida Relays last month and first in the shuttle hurdle relay.

SOFTBALL: Sophomore Allison Kidman (Countryside) has recorded career highs in hits (21) and RBIs (12) for Michigan. The outfielder is averaging .269 at the plate.

- Senior Shauna Hawthorne (Seminole/Daytona Beach CC) played in 13 games for Farleigh Dickinson.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampabay.rr.com or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.