Thursday, January 28, 1999
start good sign
The Rainbow junior hasBy Al Chase
been outstanding on the mound,
at the plate and in
Jamie Aloy was having the kind of baseball summer players dream about when a sudden loss of firm footing altered his plans.
Aloy found a wood bat very much to his liking as a member of the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League last summer. Playing almost exclusively at first base, he was demolishing Cape pitching with a .429 batting average.
Then, an odd thing happened.
"I hit a triple and was rounding second base when my legs just gave out on me," Aloy said. "I got up and slid into third. I stayed in the game until my next at-bat, but I was swinging and taking pitches real funny like."
That was enough for Brewster coach Bill Moisiello (Oklahoma). He took Aloy out and the Rainbow junior spent the next two weeks in therapy, but the pain in his lower back, caused by a herniated disk, did not subside.
Aloy cut short his Cape stay and returned to Maui. He was looking forward to his junior season at Hawaii and wanted to make sure he was ready. It took him half of fall practice to reach that point.
"It's my junior year and I'm draft eligible. It was taking a chance staying there for the last week and a half," Aloy said.
A year ago, he hit .367, second best on the club, and had a 4-0 mark with a team-leading 3.34 earned run average although he didn't starting pitching until the Rainbow Easter Tournament. Defensively, he made just two errors at first base while handling 470 chances.
It makes no difference if a pro team sees him as a pitcher or a first baseman. He would just like the opportunity to discover if he can play at the next level.
"I think it's something in every young man's life, wanting to play at the professional level,especially growing up and playing baseball. You want to see if it all pays off," Aloy said.
"Money definitely would be a factor, but what you want is something that will last you a few years. I don't want go in with a blindfold on. I want to go in knowing my options."
Aloy isn't a prototype first baseman, a position the pros view as a power-hitter's position, nor is he the prototype pro pitching prospect with a fastball in the 90 mile an hour range.
But, where pitching is concerned, he is a left-hander (the pros never have enough) who doesn't beat himself. Aloy is very similar to former UH left-hander Paul Ah Yat, who is steadily working his way up through the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league chain.
"He's somebody who knows what he is doing. He knows how to play the game well," UH head coach Les Murakami said.
Last weekend against UCLA, Aloy pitched the opener, played first in the second game and left field in the finale.
"I have no set position, it all depends on the other guys. I just want to improve in every aspect of my game," the 6-foot-3, 199-pounder said. "Wherever they put me, I'll just go out there and fill the position, give 110 percent and get the job done."
Murakami made the decision before the season opened to start Aloy in the first game of each series. This way, when it's tournament time, he also might be able to come back a couple of days later in relief. That wasn't possible in 1998, when Aloy started the third game of each series.
And this season, when he's pitching, his bat stays in the lineup as he becomes the designated hitter for himself.
"It's not a problem. The pros do it. It comes down to focus and if you are in condition," Aloy said. "You're running the bases, swinging the bat and pitching X amount of innings. It will take its toll, but I try to do a little extra in the weight room."
A member of Baldwin High School's 1995 state baseball championship team, Aloy was courted by Lewis-Clark State, Georgetown, Princeton and was asked to walk on at Arizona State.
However, he decided to stay home and committed to the Rainbows during the early signing period.
"It came down to the fact that I would get exposure here as well as on the mainland and I would get to play in front of my family," he said.
A pre-education major planning to concentrate on English, Aloy said he'd like to coach and teach some day -- "to give back what was given to me."
Coach: Cal, Bob Milano (22nd season, 661-613-4).
California Golden Bears
Season: Cal, 0-1.
Probable starting pitchers: Cal, Jason Dennis, sophomore left-hander (6-5, 4.88 in 1998); Jon Shirley, junior right-hander (3-4, 5.09); Ryan Atkinson, sophomore right-hander (2-6, 8.08).
Top players: Xavier Nady, third baseman, the 1998 Freshman of the Year as selected by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball after hitting .404 with 15 homers and 70 RBIs; Jason Williams, shortstop, a Collegiate Baseball freshman All-American (.311, 7 HR, 30 RBIs at Missouri); Juan Hernandez, junior center fielder and fastest runner in the Pac-10 (.286, 29 RBIs).
Interesting facts: The Golden Bears are ranked 23rd in the Baseball America preseason poll, an indication better things are expect from a team that was 22-32 in 1998 ... UH leads the series, 23-21-1, but Cal took 2-of-3 in its last visit in 1997 ... Cal was picked to finish sixth out of nine teams in the Pac 10 preseason coaches poll ... Rainbow Lars Hansen and Cal's Mike Tonis shared catching duties with the Brewster Whitecaps (Cape Cod League) last summer ... Three Cal pitchers, Ryan Atkinson, Jon Cuccias and Jon Shirley also played for Brewster.
Series keys: Cal's starting lineup has eight sophomores and two of their three scheduled starting pitchers are sophomores. Hernandez is a junior ... Five of the sophomores gained extensive experience as starters last season ... The 'Bows have to do what they did last weekend, get good pitching, play solid defense and execute the short game, especially if wood bats are used again ... With enough pitchers to staff two teams, Murakami won't hesitate to start a parade from the bullpen if the man on the mound isn't effective ... Cal, like UCLA, likes the long ball, but the Bears have visited here enough to know hitting adjustments are required. Whether Cal's batters respond is another question.
First pitch: Today, 6:35 p.m.; tomorrow, 7:05 p.m.; Saturday, 6:05 p.m., at Rainbow Stadium.
On the air: Today, live on KHNL TV (Channel 5); tomorrow, live on KCCN radio (1420 AM) and KHNL TV (Channel 5); Saturday, live on KHNL TV (Channel 5).