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He’s No Bo, but 2 Sports a Possibility : Baseball: Angels draft New York Jet quarterback Browning Nagle, who was a standout pitcher in high school.

NEWSDAY

When the New York Jets drafted Browning Nagle two months ago, he was dubbed by the media as the team’s quarterback of the future. Now, apparently, another team would like Nagle in its future--a major league baseball team.

Nagle learned Wednesday that he had been drafted by the Angels in the 51st round of the recent free-agent amateur draft. And, yes, Nagle--a standout pitcher in high school--is interested in giving baseball a shot.

“It’s an interesting thing, very intriguing,” said Nagle, who was drafted out of high school by the Red Sox, but opted to play college football. “Heck, it could be fun.”

But Nagle said he wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize his career with the Jets. “My life, my career is in football. I’m committed to the Jets,” said Nagle, who was drafted in the second round by the Jets. “As far as anything else, I’ll look into it and see what it’s worth.”

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Nagle isn’t a blue-chip baseball prospect--he was the next-to-last player selected by the Angels--so there’s not much chance of this escalating into a Bo Jackson-Deion Sanders situation.

Nagle hasn’t played baseball since his senior year at Pinellas Park High School in Largo, Fla., but the Angels decided to take a flyer on him after watching his 451-yard passing performance for Louisville in the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl. The Angels want to try him as a pitcher.

“When you see a guy throw like that, it makes you wonder how he’ll throw a baseball,” Angels’ scout Tom Kotchman said. Dan O’Brien, the Angels’ vice president for baseball operations, said, “You never know how these things are going to turn out. You find players everywhere.”

Not surprisingly, the Jets aren’t thrilled by the prospect of Nagle playing baseball. “We would not encourage him to play baseball,” General Manager Dick Steinberg said. “Anybody who tries to play more than one sport is going to impede his progress in both.”

The Angels held preliminary talks Wednesday with Nagle’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, but both sides said it’s too early to speculate on Nagle’s future in baseball. “Browning would love to play a couple of sports, but right now his primary focus is the Jets,” said Steinberg, who is in the midst of contract negotiations with the Jets.

Nagle said he’s not interested in pitching--he doesn’t want to risk an injury to his throwing arm--but indicated that he’d be willing to play third base or in the outfield.

“If everything worked out right,” Nagle said, “I could (play minor league ball) as long as the Angels understand that, when Browning has to go to the Jets, he has to go.”


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