Doug Simons' boyish appearance caused him to carry his major league baseball card with him at all times last season. On several occasions, it proved invaluable as he was forced to flash his official photo to get by suspicious security guards en route to the New York Mets' clubhouse.
Simons, a left-handed pitcher from Calabasas High, Oxnard College and Pepperdine, has longed for that type of predicament this season. Traded from the Mets to the Montreal Expos early in the season, Simons has spent almost all of the campaign at Indianapolis, the Expos' triple-A affiliate in the American Association.
Simons, 25, is 9-4 with a 3.38 earned-run average for Indianapolis. And although he started 14 of the 20 games in which he has appeared, Simons says the Expos have made it clear that they consider him a reliever.
"I wasn't given much of a chance with the Expos after I was traded," Simons said. "It was the worst possible scenario. They stuck me in the (bullpen) for three weeks and didn't let me pitch. I still don't think they look at me as a starter."
Simons, who relies on location and changes in speeds for his success, was a reliever for the Mets last season. He was thrilled to be in the big leagues, but felt miscast in the bullpen and finished 2-3 with a 5.19 ERA in 42 appearances. He struck out 38 and walked 19 in 61 innings.
"Last year I was pretty happy with my season," Simons said. "I put up some good stats other than my ERA. It's tough to be sharp when you're only pitching about every eight days. I don't think I was on top of my game."
Simons said his next shot at the major leagues will probably come with a team other than the Expos.
"I think the only chance I have of getting to the big leagues soon is if they trade me or I get picked up in expansion," he said. "I know I'm capable of winning up there, but I think I need to be a starter.
"I haven't pitched in the big leagues when I really felt like myself. When you pitch a lot, you get everything going."
Expanded horizons: If Simons appears to be languishing in Indianapolis, bullpen mate Dana Ridenour looks to be headed in the right direction.
Ridenour, 26, has yet to throw a pitch in the major leagues, but the former Sylmar High and UCLA standout appears to be in a good position to get that opportunity next season.
A right-hander, Ridenour is in his second season as the set-up man at Indianapolis, where he is 1-1 with a 2.61 ERA. He will become a free agent in October and is looking forward to testing his value in a market that is likely to be active as a result of the expansion draft.
"Unless you're on the 40-man roster, you're pretty much an insurance policy," said Ridenour, who originally was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1987 and was selected by the Expos from the Seattle Mariners' organization before the 1991 season. "There's 10 or 11 scouts at our games every night. You're always being watched and evaluated. That's why you always have to do get the job done.
"I've never been up to the big leagues, but I think I can pitch there. I'm definitely excited about the (Florida) Marlins and the (Colorado) Rockies. I'm just going to be looking for the best opportunity in October."
The Sisco Kid: Steve Sisco finished his Cal State Fullerton career in this year's College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
And Sisco, a second baseman from Thousand Oaks, hopes for a quick return to Omaha--where the Kansas City Royals' triple-A affiliate makes its home--on his way to the major leagues.
In three seasons at Fullerton, Sisco played on two teams that advanced to the College World Series. He spent his freshman season at Moorpark College, where he was an All-Western State Conference selection.
Sisco was selected by the Royals in the 16th round of the June draft. He is batting .281 with 11 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases in 37 games for Eugene, Ore., in the Class-A Northwest League.
"I was off to a good start but the last few weeks have been down in the dumps," Sisco said. "At the beginning, everything was going good, I had nothing to worry about. There was no frustration at all.
"Playing every day is great because it doesn't really allow you to dwell on bad games. I like the fact that you can always go out there the next day and turn things around."