Nettles running out of time

The Baltimore Sun

Bowie Baysox third baseman Jeff Nettles knows time is running out on his dream of a major league career.

"I still feel like I have enough left to help the [Orioles] organization," he said. "It's something I love to do. I've been doing it my whole life. I want to take every advantage of it."

Nettles faced the age issue openly. "I'm 29. I'll be 30 pretty soon [Aug. 20]," he said, realizing that baseball purists believe 30 means the end of the line. "I'm glad I got the opportunity to come down here and play. I want to show them what I can do, put up some numbers and see what happens next year."

Not even the Nettles name can save the 6-foot-2, 200-pound player from scrutiny about his age. He is the son of former New York Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles, a six-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner.

Jeff Nettles said his father has "meant a lot" to his career, which spans 10 minor league seasons.

"As far as the game goes and the physical part, stuff like that, he's been kind of standoffish and let me do my thing," Nettles said. "He's taught me everything I know, but what he's really helped me with is the business aspect. Knowing that it is a business and you can't let stuff that happens in the front office bother you."

Nettles says he knows people will always try to compare him with his father, who hit 390 home runs over 22 seasons with six teams. Graig Nettles' best season was in 1977 with the Yankees, when he hit 37 homers and had 107 RBIs.

"You know, I don't put that pressure on myself," he said. "I know people are going to compare me because of the same last name and the same position. I grew up watching him dive around and do all the things he does. It looked like so much fun. That's why I wanted to play third base."

Since Nettles signed with the Orioles on March 28 and was assigned to Double-A Bowie, he has been a productive hitter with decent power numbers. The same has been true at most of his minor league stops, except Triple-A Columbus in the Yankees' system, where he hit .185 and .242 in two stints in 2001 and 2002.

With the Baysox he is hitting .268 with five home runs, six doubles, 13 RBIs and 17 runs scored.

Triple-A Norfolk

Tides third baseman Mike Costanzo is off to a slow start at the plate this season and might have trouble matching the 27 home runs he hit at Double-A Reading in the Philadelphia Phillies' system last season.

Costanzo, 24, hit .217 and struck out 35 times in his first 25 games. He had three home runs, four doubles, nine RBIs and one triple.

Costanzo was acquired by the Orioles in December in the Miguel Tejada trade a little more than a month after Costanzo was sent to the Houston Astros by the Phillies.

Single-A Frederick

Outfielder Paul Winterling, who had an outstanding career at Johns Hopkins, is making his second stop at Frederick.

Winterling was out for six days with a sprained ankle this season and was hitting .207 through 10 games with one home run and three RBIs.

The Glenelg resident hit .206 in 21 games last season at Frederick before being sent to Delmarva, where he hit .320 in 29 games, had four home runs, 11 RBIs, was 5-for-5 on stolen-base attempts and had 32 hits, 14 of them extra-base hits.

Single-A Delmarva

Who needs starting pitchers, anyway?

Four members of the Shorebirds' bullpen combined to stop the Lexington Legends on one run and four hits in nine innings Friday night for a 6-0 victory.

Scheduled starter John Mariotti, the team's ace, was scratched.

Sean Gleason was the starting pitcher, and he threw four scoreless innings. Cliff Flagello then came in to pitch three innings and gained his first victory of the season, and Brett Bordes and Mick Mattaliano each pitched one inning to close it out.

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