Jake Locker to play summer baseball
Washington quarterback Jake Locker said Friday he plans to spend part of his summer playing baseball for the Bellingham Bells of the West...
Seattle Times staff reporter
UW football |
Washington quarterback Jake Locker said Friday he plans to spend part of his summer playing baseball for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League.
But fear not, Huskies fans. This does not mean a career change, or a lessening of his commitment to the UW football program.
"He just sees it as a fun opportunity," said Dave Lewis, the general manager for the Bells. "It's football first, and we still have to figure out what his requirements are there and then play around that."
Lewis said Locker will likely play only in the outfield for the Bells and won't pitch — as a way to lessen the chance of injury.
"We don't want him throwing a lot or injuring his arm or wearing his arm out," Lewis said.
Locker was an all-state performer at Ferndale High as an outfielder and pitcher and regarded as a possible first-round pick if he had chosen baseball. Even though he announced before the 2006 Major League Draft that he would devote himself to football at UW, he was still selected by the Angels in the 40th round.
Among other players on the team is Locker's cousin, Brady Locker.
Locker said in a statement released by the Bells, "There are a lot of exciting things happening with the Bells and I am going to have fun being a part of it all."
Lewis said Locker cleared the arrangement with UW coach Tyrone Willingham "a long time ago," and Willingham expressed his support in a statement released by the school.
"I completely support his decision to play baseball this summer," said Willingham, who was a two-sport athlete — baseball and football — at Michigan State. "He has always had, and will continue to have, a positive commitment to our program and to his teammates. That will not change. I don't believe that playing baseball this summer will have a negative impact on his development as a football player."
The Bells were recently purchased by Brett Sports, an ownership group that includes Hall of Famer George Brett. Shortly after the purchase, new coach Brandon Newell approached Locker about playing.
The team will play 51 regular-season games, plus playoffs, in a schedule that runs from June 6 to Aug. 19. But Lewis said it's uncertain how many games Locker will play, and he will likely leave the team before the season concludes. Washington begins practice in early August.
Still, the news generated excitement among baseball fans in Bellingham. Lewis said the team sold "15 to 20" season tickets Friday after the news was announced, after having sold "fewer than 50" last season.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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