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On the Beat Baseball: Big leagues, minor leagues and Foothill League

Posted: April 28, 2014 10:33 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2014 10:33 p.m.

Hart High graduate and former The Master’s College star Jerry Owens was suspended for 50 games last week from the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol for violating the league’s drug policy.

It’s an odd story considering the kind of person Owens is.

I’ve known him since we were teenagers, and though he’s been pretty guarded over the years, those who know him will verify that this is completely out of character.

According to Owens, the drug he was suspended for was a pain reliever, which was on the banned substances list for the league.

We profiled Owens’ return to professional baseball in The Signal in February and it was a triumphant story about a guy who went from a Major Leaguer to out of baseball to the most popular American ballplayer in Mexico.

After the story came out, he signed with Tigres de Quintana Roo, a team in Cancun, and on Thursday the news came out about his suspension.

Owens took to his Facebook page to explain:

“(I) was told that I tested positive for ‘Hydromorphine,’ a substance found in certain pain medications. The medication I was taking had been prescribed to me by a doctor I saw in (California) before going to Cancun to begin the season. Also, I had discontinued the use of it upon my arrival to Cancun. I feel the suspension is unfair but I understand there is a ‘zero tolerance’ policy and I take full responsibility for this situation as I should have been better informed about what was on the banned substance list.”

Owens went on to say he had no malicious intent in using the medication and that he plays the game of baseball with honesty and integrity.

Known as hydromorphone, it is a medication used to relieve moderate to severe pain, according to WebMD.

No-hitter: The up-and-down minor league career of former first-round pick and Hart High graduate Mike Montgomery may have hit its highest high on Saturday.

Montgomery, who pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays’ Triple-A affiliate the Durham Bulls, pitched 8 1/3 innings of no-hit ball before reliever Brad Boxberger came in to complete the no-hitter.

Montgomery threw 106 pitches, allowed just one walk and struck out nine batters in the game.

For his work, he was named the International League Pitcher of the Week.

Montgomery, 24, is off to a tremendous start thus far in five outings.

He is 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA and has struck out 28 batters in 25 2/3 innings and opposing batters are hitting just .183 against him.

Montgomery has never been closer to the Major Leagues.

Control has been an issue for him in the past, but with three walks allowed in his last two starts, it appears that he’s beginning to figure things out.

The Foothill League: Hart won the season series against Valencia 2-1 thanks to a Friday 3-2 victory in which the Indians did just enough to defeat the Vikings.

Hart was the pick by many to win the Foothill League title before the season started, but as head coach Jim Ozella explained, there have been times when the defense and pitching have been inconsistent.

Hart starter Paul Richan had the ultimate bend-but-don’t-break performance by allowing just two runs while giving up 10 hits.

Particularly effective for him was a slider that dove away from right-handers.

Also interesting to watch was the range displayed by Nick Valaika at shortstop.

No one in the valley takes away the right side of the infield like Valaika — who by the way was hit by a pitch four times in the Friday game.

He chuckled when asked if that was some kind of record.

This week Hart plays West Ranch, Valencia plays Saugus and Canyon plays Golden Valley.

Our rankings:

1. Hart

2. Saugus

3. Valencia

4. West Ranch

5. Canyon

6. Golden Valley

And finally: We ran the story of Bill Phippen and his 1887 baseball card on April 20. Phippen put the card up for auction and the final result was it sold for $110,000.


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