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Name: Jim MonaghanHeight: 5'8"Weight: 150
Prior to joining WDHA, Jim spent a number of years as part of the New York/New Jersey sports media corps covering the Mets, Yankees, Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets, Devils and Rangers. Jim has over 25 years of experience coaching and playing baseball. He spent two years in baseball management with the Newark Bears. and coached the Don Bosco Prep freshman baseball team to back-to-back Bergen County championships for the only time in the school's history. He's also an instructor with Professional Baseball Instruction in Bergen County.
So last night I'm listening to the Yankees-Red Sox game on the radio on my way home from our annual Teachers Who Rock awards dinner and the Yankees radio dynamic duo of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are waxing quite poetically about Zoilo Almonte, who had come into the game to play right field for New York. A 6-year veteran of the Yankees minor league system, Almonte finally advanced to AA Trenton last summer.
John & Suzyn were in mid-season form talking about Almonte and by the time I got home I figured the kid was a lock to replace Nick Swisher by the time the All Star Break rolled around in July.
In the top of the 9th inning, the Red Sox sent Pedro Ciriaco up to the plate. He's number 77 on your scorecard if you're keeping score at home. Ciriaco is another one of those "Who is this?" players. He signed with Arizona in 2003 and has spent the vast majority of his time in the minor leagues with the Diamondbacks and Pirates. He's actually played 31 games at the major league level with Pittsburgh but I think you'd be hard pressed to find any Yankees fan who had heard of him prior to last night.
Ciriaco hits a bloop single in the top of the 9th off David Phelps (#79 and no, you've probably never heard of him, either) that drops in front of rightfielder Almonte who promptly lets the ball go past him for a 2-base error. A error on the throw from right field and you have the grownup version of a "Little League home run."
Spring Training is great fun. It's a reminder that winter is on its way out, summer is on its way, and everybody starts the regular season in first place - even the Mets! But it's also VERY easy to get a little carried away. The Zoilo Almonte whom John & Suzyn were heard raving about earlier in the evening, looked every bit like the career minor leaguer he's been to this point on what should have been a 150-foot routine single. Ciriaco has shown some nice flashes with both his bat and glove, but he's a non-roster invitee to Red Sox spring training. The odds of him leaving Florida with the big boys in a few weeks is very slim.
Believe very little of what you see in March.
Opening Day is 22 days away. Then the real show begins.
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