Through the Big Easy and across two international borders, Roger Salkeld keeps trying to realize the potential that prompted the Seattle Mariners to grab him with the third pick of the 1989 amateur baseball draft.
Salkeld, 28, signed this week with the triple-A Calgary Cannons, the Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Florida Marlins. It might be his last run at returning to the major leagues.
"I'm getting to the point in my career where I need to do things to get me back to the big leagues," Salkeld said.
By that, the former Saugus High hard-thrower means working out of the bullpen exclusively.
He told that much to the Houston Astros, who last year shuffled him between starting and relieving assignments at triple-A New Orleans, and the club responded by releasing him after the season.
Salkeld finished 3-6 with a 5.79 earned-run average in 37 games, including 11 starts. But when camps opened in February, Salkeld was at home in Phoenix.
"I went down to play at Mexico City," Salkeld said. "I used it as spring training. I couldn't get a job [in the U.S.] if I wasn't ready to go."
Salkeld was a starter with the Mexico City Tigers and the stint reinforced his desire to be only a reliever. His right shoulder, surgically repaired seven years ago, is holding up but ineffective if overworked.
"Once I hit about 80 pitches, my arm just gets tired and my velocity drops," Salkeld said.
If he can produce with the Cannons, Salkeld might yet return to the majors, where he started for the Mariners briefly in 1993-94 and for the Cincinnati Reds in 1996.
This time, he simply wants to wait for the phone to ring in the bullpen.
"That's where I've had my best success the last two years," he said.
Trivia: Before Montreal Expos reliever Guillermo Mota of the Dominican Republic hit a home run in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday, which Valley region player was the last to homer in his first at-bat with the Expos?
At every motel Pete Paciorek stays in his Southern League travels the next few weeks, guests might be startled by the noise coming from his room.
"I have a blender I take with me everywhere," Paciorek said.
Paciorek, a switch-hitting, left-handed first baseman at double-A Mobile, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres, is eating through a straw after breaking his jaw in two places during a game at Chattanooga on June 1.
It happened as he dived to second base during an attempted pickoff and the ball smashed into his face. His jaw was wired shut the next day, forcing him to drink a lot of milk shakes for the next six weeks.
Paciorek, who played at Glendale College and is a nephew of former Dodger Tom Paciorek, is batting .242 with four home runs and 12 runs batted in.
He is using a helmet fitted with a face mask during batting practice and was hoping to come off the seven-day disabled list on Friday.
It's not the first time Paciorek's face took a blow in a game. He lost two teeth in a spring training game three years ago when a baserunner smacked him in the mouth with an elbow.
Paciorek said he's on the mend from the latest mishap.
"I'm feeling a lot better," he said.
Left-hander Randy Wolf, two-time City Section player of the year at El Camino Real, made his major league debut Friday with Philadelphia, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up one run on six hits with six strikeouts. On Wednesday, he was all over the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Wolf traveled during an off day from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to Philadelphia, about 130 miles, to tape a TV show. He returned home two hours before the Phillies called him up.
The show, later scrapped, centered on when Wolf might be promoted.
Several players from the region have been selected to play in minor league all-star games. Here's the latest breakdown:
California League vs. Carolina League (Class A), June 22 at Lake Elsinore--Lancaster catcher Greg Connors and pitcher Brandon Parker, and San Jose (Giants) designated hitter Mike Glendenning (Crespi, Pierce).
San Jose left-hander Erasmo Ramirez, who played at Cal State Northridge in 1995-97 before transferring to Cal State Fullerton, is having surgery for elbow bone chips and will miss the all-star game.
Florida State League (Class A), June 19 at Lakeland, Fla.--Kissimmee (Astros) outfielder Eric Cole (Antelope Valley High, Antelope Valley College).
Midwest League (Class A) June 22 at Lansing, Mich.--Quad City (Twins) first baseman Jon Schaeffer (Harvard-Westlake) and Peoria (Cardinals) shortstop Jack Wilson (Thousand Oaks).
South Atlantic League (Class A), June 22 at Salisbury, Md.--Delmarva (Orioles) catcher Tom McGee (Cal Lutheran) and Macon (Braves) outfielder Junior Brignac (Cleveland).
Trivia answer: First baseman Brad Fullmer, a Montclair Prep graduate, who homered against former Cleveland High ace Bret Saberhagen of the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 2, 1997.
Short hops: Lancaster is third in average attendance in the California League at 3,197. Rancho Cucamonga is first at 4,348 and Lake Elsinore is second at 3,609. . . . Bowie (Orioles) right-hander Javier Delahoya (Grant), who is 9-1, leads the double-A Eastern League in victories. . . . Birmingham (White Sox) first baseman Rich Aude (Chatsworth) and Jacksonville (Tigers) outfielder Kurt Airoso (Cal State Northridge) are tied for third place in RBIs in the Southern League, each with 41. . . . Glendenning is the home run co-leader in the California League with 15.