When Gary Mota laughs and smiles, he exudes an impressive amount of enthusiasm for a man who might be spending his final days as a professional ballplayer.
"This is my last opportunity, probably," said Mota, a former La Crescenta resident and the oldest of Dodger Coach Manny Mota's six children. "I just hope I can build on all my injury problems and the mistakes I've made in the past.
"It's still very important for me to make the big leagues, because I love this game."
Mota, 26, signed with the High Desert Mavericks, an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate, on July 18 in an attempt to rebuild a broken career. Mota has appeared as the team's designated hitter for 23 games while he rests his injured throwing arm. He entered Thursday's game against the JetHawks batting .213.
Mota has never made a major-league club in seven years despite being on the 40-man roster of three different teams: Houston , Cincinnati and Philadelphia. He retired briefly in 1995.
Mota said one of his mistakes was not playing in the winter leagues this past off-season, when he opened a sports memorabilia/hair salon in the Caribbean. He then started the 1997 season in the Mexican League before joining the independent Bend (Ore.) Bandits and, finally, the Mavericks.
Mota might be hitting for a low average, but five of his 17 hits were home runs. He had a two-run double Wednesday to help High Desert beat Lancaster, 6-2.
"I've been smoking the ball," Mota said. "I should be hitting .300."
Outfielder Pat Bryant, formerly of Cleveland High, was promoted to Pawtucket, the Boston Red Sox's triple-A affiliate.
Scanning Wednesday's box scores: TRIPLE A--Left fielder Jason Evans (Chatsworth) had two hits and a run batted in for Nashville in a loss to Indianapolis. . . . First baseman Brad Fullmer (Montclair Prep) hit his second home run for Ottawa in a 6-4 victory over Charlotte. . . . DOUBLE A--Third baseman Stacy Kleiner (Taft) had two hits and three RBIs for Arkansas in a 9-0 victory over Tulsa. . . . CLASS A--Rancho Cucamonga left fielder Greg Shockey (Cal State Northridge) had three hits, including his 14th home run, in a 9-8 victory over San Jose. . . . Right fielder Gabe Kapler (Taft, Moorpark College) hit his 37th and 38th doubles and had a triple in Lakeland's 11-2 victory over Daytona.
Tonight's game: High Desert (Vladimir Nunez, 7-5, 5.17) at JetHawks (Joe Mays, 6-2, 4.75), 7:15.