Patrick Scalabrini hit .287 in 139 games in the independent Northern League, and was rewarded with a minor-league contract.

swiped by Chicago

By Al Chase

Keeping track of Hawaii's professional baseball players sometimes results in a bit of humorous confusion.

A web site dedicated to minor-league baseball had this entry under transactions for Dec. 12.

Patrick Scalabrini, third baseman, new contract, Florida Marlins.

However, this particular transaction never appeared on the major league baseball web site ( under minor-league transactions for the Marlins.

Since Scalabrini played for the Quebec Les Capitales in the independent Northern League (now the Northeast League) last summer, that web site was checked. Nothing.

A couple of weeks later, while making a periodic check of half-dozen baseball web sites for any activity involving players with Hawaii ties, the Northeast League has the following entry.

Quebec: Sold 3B Pat Scalabrini to the Chicago Cubs.

Wait a minute!! Was it possible there were two Pat Scalabrini's out there who just happened to be third basemen?

Not likely, but the Pat Scalabrini who played two seasons for the Hawaii Rainbows and grew up in Quebec was temporarily out of contact working as a substitute teacher in French immersion schools in the Toronto area. However, he returned home for the holidays. When questioned about the apparent conflict, Scalabrini said in his own quiet way, "Well, both are correct."

He drew attention from major league teams last summer when he was named Northern League East Rookie of the Year after hitting .325 with 24 doubles, seven home runs, 44 runs batted in and stole 19 bases.

Quebec had an option for his 2003 contact and exercised that option in October.

"Four teams talked to my coach, Andy McCauley, after the season. I contacted my agent and he started calling the teams that showed interest," Scalabrini said.

"The Marlins put an offer on the table but we decided to wait. They gave us a week to give them an answer. We decided to go with them. They sent a contact, I signed it and sent it back the next day."

But Florida never got around to completing a deal with Quebec for Scalabrini's contract. Then the Cubs called and this was the team Scalabrini and his agent Tracy Hunt felt was a better opportunity from the beginning.

"The Cubs went right to the Northeast League and bought my contact from the Les Capitales. The Cubs said I would be no lower than high A. The Marlins said I would be no higher than high A, so the Cubs had a better deal," said Scalabrini.

"When the Cubs submitted their paperwork, the commissioner's office called and said there already was a contract on file for Patrick from Florida," said Hunt. "The reality is the Cubs did the proper paperwork while the Marlins were working backward.

"In the end, Florida withdrew their contract at the request of the commissioner's office and it worked out the way we wanted," he added.

"The Marlins have a high draft pick, Miguel Cabrera, who they moved from shortstop to third base and will probably be in Double-A this year. They spent a lot of money to sign him and that's a worst-case scenario for Pat and I didn't like that.

"The Cubs have no third base prospect, so there is no one to block Pat from moving up in the organization. What he has to do is go out and establish himself and put up numbers like he did in Quebec."

Hunt said he is still working on a few details for Scalabrini's individual player contract, but the Cubs own his rights.

Miles Wolff, owner of the Capitales, had this to say on the Quebec website, "Patrick is a player who made tremendous strides in 2002 and we're really happy to see him go in affiliated baseball. He always represented the Capitales with a lot of class on the field or outside off it."

Major League Baseball

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