Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Prep baseball: Pope enjoying life as a Yankee

(Photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

TAMPA - Ryan Pope's locker at George M. Steinbrenner Field isn't too far away from a row that includes guys such as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
It's quite common for him to see Hall-of-Famers Goose Gossage and Yogi Berra walking through the clubhouse, or to step outside the dugout and see David Wells throwing batting practice.
A 2004 Bayshore graduate, Pope was picked by the New York Yankees in the third round of the 2007 draft, and is spending the spring in big-league camp.
His goal this spring is to take another step toward making the big club. But Pope is also taking advantage of his surroundings.
"I come in, and I'm in one of the most prestigious locker rooms in all of baseball," he said prior to the Yankees game with the Pirates on Wednesday. "I'm just happy to come to work every day, and see the this group of guys.
"You see things that you never see anywhere else."
Pope said he has been treated well by the Yankees veterans, including closer Mariano Rivera, who tried teaching Pope his trademark cutter.
"I think he's the only guy who can throw that thing," Pope said. "He taught me how to throw, but I still haven't picked up on it...We have a quality locker room of guys. If you're a young guy, and you're willing to ask them a question, they are willing to help you."
Pope saved 17 games last year for the Yankees' Double-A affiliate in Trenton, N.J., and has made three appearances this spring, including one at McKechnie Field and another at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
He has allowed no runs and a hit in three innings, walking none and striking out one.

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