The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 16, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: Jedd Gyorko running and taking batting practice now

MORGANTOWN — A report on the internet at this week’s start indicated that Morgantown’s Jedd Gyorko might be ready finally to rejoin the San Diego Padre’s starting lineup.

He has been on the Major League’s disabled list since June 3. Problems with his feet was given as the reason Gyorko was unable to keep playing.

But Grant Dovey, West Virginia’s director of baseball communications, said on Monday that the former Mountaineer star second baseman was now running and taking batting practice.

This has to be encouraging, not only to the Padres but to Gyorko’s relatives and many fans that he has in West Virginia.

In the meantime, Gyorko has remained on the sideline, and the San Diego team has slipped steadily in the West Divison of the National League standings.

The last time I looked, their record was 41 and 54, twelve games behind the top team.

The positioning follows Last Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the Dodgers in Los Angeles. If anything, I’ve got to believe that his absence certainly wasn’t beneficial to the Padre’s success especially with the close losses. Whether Gyorko could have made a difference during the nearly month and a half without his help, we’ll never know.

I think Gyorko was batting slightly over .170 when he became injured and went on the disabled list. He’s a much better hitter than that as a Mountaineer at the plate.

You may recall reading several months ago that the San Diego organization announced that it considered Jedd Gyorko, in just his second year as a Major League player, is rated as a long- range future star.

He was signed to a six-year contract for $37 million. This certainly sounded like the Padres have the utmost belief and faith and for whom they have high expectations.

While I’m certainly happy about Gyorko’s great fortune and wish him all the best in his baseball career, this writer continues to be amazed by these seemly unbelievable high salaries.

That is not only concerning players in pro sports, but also coaches in intercollegiate, especially in football and men’s basketball—the two major revenue producers.

This brings to mind another former WVU standout second base named Paul Popovich.

In the spring of 1960, he signed a $40,000 contract with the Chicago Cubs while living in Morgantown.

That was considered pretty good money during that era. So much so, Popovich bought a house for his parents with a small portion of his signing bonus. This isn’t fiction but fact.

Popovich, who now resides in a Chicago suburb, wound up playing 11 years in the big leagues. In addition to twice to Chicago, he served stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates before retiring.

He’ll tell you, “I never came close to making a million dollars”, Popvich said recently. “I wish I were playing baseball today.”

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