Randy Myers will turn 40 on Thursday, but the left-hander hasn't yet decided if he has enough zip on his fastball to make a comeback.
'I never close any doors,' says the Vancouver, Wash., native, whose shoulder problems ended his 13-year major league career in 1998. 'We'll just see what happens.'
For a decade, Myers was one of the top closers in baseball. He played for six clubs, registering 347 saves with a 3.19 ERA from 1987-98. After a pair of surgeries and extensive rehabilitation, he signed late last season with Seattle and pitched one game with Triple-A Tacoma, 'but my mechanics were off,' he says.
Last month, Myers spent three weeks in Tampa, Fla., with Billy Connors, the New York Yankees' vice president of player personnel. Connors had been Myers' pitching coach with the Chicago Cubs in 1993, when Myers recorded a career-best 53 saves with a 3.11 ERA in 73 games. Myers felt comfortable having Connors assess his chances to pitch at the major league level again.
'Randy wasn't trying to throw 100 miles per hour,' Connors says. 'He was just working on mechanics. He threw batting practice, did everything to see how his arm responded, and he was OK. It's hard to say what his future is, but I'll say this: A guy who has done it in the past like Randy, you never say no.'
Myers' self-assessment: 'My arm was strong, and three out of four days, everything was good. Then that last day, I just didn't have the endurance you would need to pitch at the major league level.'
Myers says he will continue to do rehab and keep his options open.
'I have open invitations from three clubs,' he says. 'If I am throwing 90 and someone calls, who knows?'
Myers continues to make his home in Vancouver. For now, he's working on his charitable organization, Today (The Organization Dedicated to Athletes and Youth). It has raised $300,000 and donated to 400 groups and clubs in Oregon and southwest Washington for the past decade.
nÊNike stepped in as a major sponsor of Saturday's second annual Vanport Invitational football game, which featured Portland State against North Carolina A&T at PGE Park.
Good thing for the Vikings, who lost about $80,000 on the Grambling game last season when ERL Development pulled out weeks before the inaugural event and couldn't come through with operating expenses.
Nike provided $25,000, 750 tickets for youth groups and other perks for sponsors that should make the Vikings' intention of honoring the African-American community with an annual game against a historically black college a reality.
• A recent piece in Sports Business Journal outlined the latest entity to be targeted for naming rights Ñ golf courses Ñ and fingered local group Pumpkin Ridge Associates as the trendsetters. Can you picture the Thomason Reserve? Les Schwab Eastmoreland? The Portland Tribune Forest Hills?
It's regrettable Ñ is there no sanctity in sport anymore? Ñ but it's a fact of life these days, as teams, arenas and other enterprises struggle to meet the rising costs of doing business. 'Branding' is going to happen nationally, probably by the end of the year, says Pumpkin Ridge partner Greg Crawford, who is involved in negotiations with several businesses and courses across the country.
The hope, Crawford says, is that such a business arrangement will help keep greens fees down. It certainly worked with ticket prices at Safeco Field, didn't it?
• Another thing to expect: Hilton Gill Coliseum, or something to that effect.
'There is sensitivity to the Slats Gill family,' new Oregon State Athletic Director Bob De Carolis says. 'There have been discussions through (former basketball coaches) Paul Valenti and Jimmy Anderson with the Gill family. They understand it is a grand old building, but it is tired and needs some work.
We need to be sensitive about how we do it,' he says, but naming rights are 'certainly on the table.'