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Baseball: D9 natives getting ready for MLB season

By Rich Rhoades

Two former District 9 baseball players are getting ready to break camp with their respective major league teams as the MLB’s regular season gets under way next week.

Or at least trying to break camp, that is.

Cincinnati Reds catcher and 2007 first-round pick Devin Mesoraco of Punxsutawney was slated to be the starter in his third year of making the opening-day roster, but it appears he’ll be out with an injury. Meanwhile out in Seattle, former St. Marys standout and Kersey native Joe Beimel is trying to make the Mariners as a relief pitcher.

Thursday, it was reported that Mesoraco suffered an oblique injury and he will most likely be ready for Opening Day at home against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday.

“We haven’t made a complete commitment,” Reds manager Bryan Price said in a Cincinnati.com story. “It’s unlikely that he would be. We haven’t signed off that we wouldn’t be ready at some point in time in that first series. Today’s probably a very important day for that.

“I think it would be unlikely that we’ll have Devin on Opening Day, but maybe for a change I’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

An MLB.com story said it’ll be a close call on whether Mesoraco will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Mesoraco hit .276 in 12 Cactus League games this spring. Last year, he hit .238 with nine home runs and 42 runs batted in while playing in 103 games with 323 at-bats for the Reds.

Meanwhile in Seattle, the veteran left-hander Beimel is trying to make a big league club and pitch in the majors for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. Beimel, who turns 37 April 17, underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in 2012 and got back into action last year, but only pitched in Class AAA with the Atlanta Braves.

Beimel, an 18th-round draft by the Pirates back in 1998, appeared in 35 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011 after stops in Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Washington and Colorado in between. In 11 seasons in the bigs, Beimel has appeared in 567 games and sports a 4.21 career earned run average.

With the Mariners this spring under new manager and former Pirates skipper Lloyd McClendon, Beimel owns a 2.84 ERA in seven appearances covering 6 1/3 innings.

Other former District 9 player notes:

— Port Allegany’s Josh Kinney was a non-roster invitee of the Pittsburgh Pirates and he’ll start the season in Class AAA. Kinney, who turns 35 Monday, also went through Tommy John surgery earlier in his career. He pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals during the World Series title year in 2006. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 when he appeared in 35 games with the Seattle Mariners. With the Mariners’ Class AAA affiliate Tacoma last year, he threw in 30 games in short relief.

— Punxsutawney’s John “Sarge” Mizerock is an assistant hitting coach with the Philadelphia Phillies this year. He was a coach the last three years with the Phillies’ Class A affiliate the past three years. Prior to that, he had an extensive career in the Kansas City Royals organization, 17 years, including stints as bullpen coach and third-base coach.

As a player, Mizerock was also a first-round draft pick of the Houston Astros as a catcher in 1979. He appeared in 103 games in the majors with the Astros and Atlanta Braves.

Mizerock had several stops as a minor league manager — the rookie league Eugene Emeralds in 1993, Class A Rockford Royals in 1994 where he earned Midwest League Manager of the Year, Class A Wilmington Blue Rocks where he won another Manager of the Year award in the Carolina League in 1995 and then the league title in 1996. He was in Wilmington in 1997 before heading to Wichita in the Class A Texas League in 1998. In 1999 with Wichita, he was Minor League Manager of the Year. Mizerock managed 2000 and 2011 with Class AAA Omaha before getting moved up to the Royals in 2002. He was 646-554 as a minor league manager.

Mizerock owns a 5-8 major league managerial record, all of it coming as interim manager of the Royals in 2002 after Tony Muser was fired and before he was replaced by Tony Pena.

His last managerial job was in 2007 when he returned to manage Wilmington to a playoff berth in the Carolina League. Mizerock was a bullpen coach of the Royals in 2008, his final year with Kansas City. He returned to baseball in 2011 as a hitting cloach at Clearwater in the Class A Florida State League.

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