Fill-ins hoping stay isn’t temporary
By KENDRA BUTTERS
and ERIN CAWLEY
WAREHAM ---- Twenty-five pitches was all it took ---- and all that was allowed ---- for pitchers at the Cape Cod Baseball League tryout to make an impression on general managers and coaches.
With the league boasting nearly 170 players still competing in the NCAA Tournament, invitees could feel all eyes on them last Saturday during tryouts at Spillane Field as teams looked to fill out their rosters by next week’s opening day.
Three who made it, all signed by Wareham to temporary contracts, were Joe DiRocco (Seton Hall), Matt Young (UMass-Boston) and Brett Yarusi (Wesleyan).
“I was definitely nervous coming in,” DiRocco said. “I just tried to stay calm and throw my best. You don’t get many opportunities like this one, so I just kept that in mind.”
The 6-1 right-hander took advantage of his stint on the mound and signed a temporary contract with Wareham. DiRocco had a 5.05 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 82 innings with the Pirates. The Gateman newbie also threw a complete game shutout in a 2-0 win against West Virginia in March.
Young said the temporary contract doesn’t worry him. In fact, it has the opposite effect.
“It actually works better for me because it just means that I have to work harder so I can stay around longer,” he said.
The Colchester, Conn. reliever finished the Beacons’ season with a 7.00 ERA, and 21 strikeouts in 27 innings.
Yarusi knows he has to work hard to prove himself.
“Coming from a (Division 3) school, no one is really expecting a lot from me,” the Belmar, N. J. native said. “I’m hoping to prove them wrong.”
Yarusi will be able to do just that if the stats he put up with the Cardinals this season foreshadow what is to come. The 6-0 invitee was 7-3 with a 3.81 ERA, with 47 strikeouts in 59 innings. He also added five complete games to his resume, including one shutout.
Despite impressive college stats, the invitees remain grounded.
“It’s the best of the best,” DiRocco said. “Everyone has talent. Everyone’s competitive.”
Players are split into three groups at the tryouts: two teams of position players with pitchers separate. Though everyone is competing for spots, they also need to work together.
“I didn’t know the catcher whatsoever,” Yarusi explained. “We had some good chemistry going. He kept calling pitches and I kept throwing strikes.”
But it was not all strikes for Yarusi. He recalled getting ahead in the count before the batter fouled off several pitches.
“I threw a ball or two. It was full count and then I hit him,” he said. “At first, I got worried. But then I looked back on what I already did and I struck out two batters and two grounded out or popped up. That’s going to happen once in a while so I wasn’t going to let that affect me.”
A pitch-by-pitch mentality will help all the players that signed a temporary contract on Saturday.
“(General Manager Tom Gay) explained that you could be here for a day, a week, or all summer. I have nothing to lose,” Yarusi said.
Still, each player is eager to make a second and, hopefully, lasting impression.
“You need to just stay relaxed, stay loose and do your thing,” Young said. “Whenever they call you, you just need to be ready to throw your best.”