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Mixed MLB bag

Some locals had more luck making 25-man rosters than others

Posted: April 5, 2010 9:34 p.m.
Updated: April 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields smiles while sitting in the dugout during the third inning against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla. on March 22. The Rays defeated the Red Sox 11-9.

With Monday’s Opening Day, baseball is in full bloom.

There was potential for five Santa Clarita Valley products to make it onto Major League 25-man rosters.

Instead, locally, we get a mixed bag.

Hart High graduate James Shields gets his first career Opening Day start when his Tampa Bay Rays host the Baltimore Orioles today.

Shields had a great spring, going 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA, allowing five earned runs in 21 1/3 innings.

The 28-year-old is entering his fifth big-league season and has a 43-36 career record with a 4.01 ERA.

Shields’ numbers slipped a tad in 2009, as he was 11-12 with a 4.14 ERA.

He figures to be a big piece of the puzzle for a Tampa Bay Rays team that some baseball insiders have picked to return to the postseason.

College of the Canyons product Dana Eveland also made the 25-man roster for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 26-year-old left-hander was acquired by Toronto on Feb. 6 from the Oakland A’s.

Eveland had an impressive spring, as his ERA was 1.23 in 22 innings.

He was so impressive that he earned the final spot in the Blue Jays’ starting rotation.

In parts of five big league seasons, Eveland is 13-17 with a 5.54 ERA.

Other guys who were on the cusp of making Major League teams going into the spring were Hart graduates Jerry Owens and Chris Valaika and also Kevin Millar, who grew up locally.

Owens was in camp with the Washington Nationals and went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two stolen bases, but the 29-year-old injured his throwing shoulder.

In early March, according to the Washington Post, he was reassigned to the team’s minor league camp.

According to a family source, Owens is in extended Spring Training camp in Florida and trying to see if he can throw right-handed instead of lefty.

Owens has spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues. Valaika has yet to make his debut.

Valaika, who was the Reds’ No. 4 prospect coming into the 2009 season according to Baseball America, dropped off the top-10 list for the 2010 season.

The 24-year-old was 3-for-13 in eight games with a solo home run on March 17.

The next day, he was optioned to Triple-A Louisville, where he batted .235 with six home runs and 36 RBIs in 2009.

One baseball career that got its start locally might be coming to an end.

Millar, who played at the William S. Hart PONY League, was released by the Chicago Cubs on March 30.

Millar was 8-for-33 with one home run and three RBIs.

“If this is the end, you shake hands,” Millar said to “The one thing in my career, I’ve never been released and I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’ve had as much fun as I could and played as hard as I could with limited ability. Do I feel this is the end? I’d say no.”

In 12 seasons, Millar hit 170 home runs and knocked in 699 runs with a .274 career average.


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