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MLB: Into the stretch

SCV products prepare for the final month of the regular season

Posted: September 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher and Hart High graduate James Shields reacts during a 4-3 win over the New York Yankees on Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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Baseball’s home stretch is here.

Major League Baseball teams are gearing up for pennant races as they begin the final month of the regular season, and local products are right in the middle of it.

Four players who graduated from four different Santa Clarita Valley high schools are on MLB rosters right now, and some of them are playing pivotal roles on potential playoff teams.

Others appear to be on the cusp of everyday life in the Big Leagues as MLB rosters were expanded from 25 to 40 players on Saturday.

James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays, Pitcher

Monday’s win over the New York Yankees continued a strong second half of the season for the eighth-year MLB veteran and Hart High graduate.

After making his first career All-Star team last year for the American League in 2011, Shields stumbled slightly out of the gate this season, posting a 4.17 ERA in his 18 starts before the All-Star Break.

Since then, Shields has lowered his ERA to 3.88 for the season in 190 innings pitched. The 30-year-old is now 13-8 in 28 starts with 181 strikeouts, fifth best in the AL.

His 13 wins are just three shy of his career-high of 16 last year.

He’s won five of his last six decisions, which is a good sign for a Tampa Bay team just 2 1/2 behind the Yankees in the AL East and 1 1/2 games out the AL wild card.

Tommy Milone, Oakland Athletics, Pitcher

The 25-year-old left-handed pitcher has elevated to one of the top pitchers in the Oakland Athletics’ starting rotation.

After losing in his latest outing on Monday in Oakland’s 8-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, the Saugus High graduate is now 11-10 with a 3.94 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 26 starts and 162 1/3 innings pitched in his second Major League season.

Milone, who was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2008 and traded to the A’s this past offseason, has been with Oakland throughout the 2012 season.

He is currently listed as the team’s No. 3 pitcher in the rotation, and his value on the team was increased on Aug. 22, when fellow Oakland starter Bartolo Colon was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for testosterone.

With the Athletics currently tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the lead in the American League wild-card race, this all bodes well for Milone’s position in a possible playoff rotation.

Danny Worth, Detroit Tigers, Infielder

The 2007 draft pick has bounced back-and-forth between the Major Leagues and the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens all season.

Worth, a 26-year-old Valencia High graduate, was called up to the Tigers on Saturday after spending the last month with Toledo.

His last appearance in the Majors came on Aug. 5, when he started at second base and went 0-for-3 before being sent down to Triple-A once again.

That was a one-day callup. In all, Worth has played in 36 games for Detroit this season and he’s hitting .206 with three RBIs and 22 strikeouts.

This year, which is his third MLB season, he made the Tigers’ opening day roster and remained with the club until his first trip down to the minors on July 3.

Since then, it’s been a series of short stints with both Detroit and Toledo.

In 60 games with the Mud Hens, Worth is batting .264 with five home runs and 24 RBIs.

Chris Seddon, Cleveland Indians, Pitcher

Since making his 2012 Major League debut on Aug. 5 after the Cleveland Indians purchased his contract from Triple-A Columbus, Seddon has settled into his role in the bullpen.

The Canyon High graduate had appeared in just 21 Major League games coming into the season, and not one since 2010.

In eight games so far, the 28-year-old who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2001 has compiled a 4.57 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings of work. For the most part, he’s served as a relief pitcher with the exception of two starts, one of which came on his season debut against the Detroit Tigers.

In that game, he was roughed up, allowing four runs off seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Since then, Seddon has been steady out of the bullpen.

It appears Seddon is secure to finish out the season with Cleveland, his third MLB team after playing for the Florida Marlins in 2007 and Seattle Mariners in 2010.

Not currently in the Majors:

Trevor Bauer, Reno Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks), Triple-A, Pitcher
It was a brief trip up to the Major Leagues this year for Bauer, the third overall pick in last year’s draft out of UCLA.
The Hart High graduate went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in four starts with the Diamondbacks before he was sent back down to Triple-A Reno on July 18.
Last week, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson told Fox Sports Arizona that “it’s possible” Bauer could be called up again for the final month of the MLB season.

Zach Britton, Norfolk Tides (Baltimore Orioles), Triple-A, Pitcher

Though on the surface, Britton appears to have been demoted, he’s likely in good shape to return to the Majors before long.

After finally making it back to Major Leagues in July, he went on to post a 4.80 ERA and a 4-1 record in eight starts, but was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday to make room for on the roster for newly signed veteran Randy Wolf.

Since then, rosters have been expanded to 40 players for MLB teams, meaning Britton could easily be called up for his next start today. The Norfolk Tides completed their season on Monday.

Britton finally took the mound in a Major League game on July 17 this season after spending the first half of the year pitching the in the minors and recovering from shoulder inflammation.

The former Canyon High player made his MLB debut with the Orioles last year after working his way up the team’s minor-league system following his selection in the third round of the 2006 draft.

Britton went 11-11 with a 4.61 ERA as a starter in 2011, but his injury kept him off the club’s roster to open 2012.

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