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Area Beat: Astros farmhand Stassi makes season debut after surgery

Published: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 - 12:32 am

Often-injured Max Stassi from Yuba City High School is supposed to be catching, not catching up.

The 22-year-old Houston Astros farmhand had sports hernia surgery on Feb. 28 in Philadelphia and missed the exhibition season. He dealt with abdominal muscle issues for more than a year, and when Astros management sent him to a specialist, the sports hernia was diagnosed.

On Thursday, he made his season debut with Double-A Corpus Christi and homered in three at-bats.

Stassi's injury history includes shoulder tendinitis in high school followed by surgery in 2011 and an ankle injury in 2012. He played in 31 games, all as a designated hitter, in 2011.

Stassi was acquired – along with former River Cats Chris Carter and Brad Peacock – from the A's for shortstop Jed Lowrie and right-hander Fernando Rodriguez.

In 239 games in four minor-league seasons, Stassi has compiled a .246 average with 30 homers and 123 RBIs. He hit .268 with 15 home runs at Advanced-A Stockton last season.

There's no question about Stassi's defense. He has power at the plate but needs more discipline with fewer swings and misses. His upside will depend on his hitting and health.

Stassi was drafted by the A's in the fourth round in 2009 and signed for $1.5 million.

Leon Lee in the booth

Leon Lee (Grant) can add radio commentator to his résumé.

Lee made his radio debut alongside longtime River Cats broadcaster Johnny Doskow during Friday night's game against the Las Vegas 51s.

"Leon was fantastic," Doskow said. "For doing it for the first time and for me working with someone for the first time, we really had such a good flow going. He was so good, it was like having a day off. We've just scratched the surface of what he can bring to a broadcast."

The two will collaborate again on May 17, when the River Cats host the Oklahoma City RedHawks and pitcher Eric Berger (Woodcreek).

After being drafted in the ninth round in 1972, Lee played seven seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals organization and compiled a .280 average with 62 home runs and 340 RBIs, all in the minors.

He then played 10 years in Japan, where he and his older brother, Leron (Grant), became legends. Leon batted .308 with 1,436 hits and 268 home runs.

In his 40-plus years in baseball, he also has been a roving hitting instructor for the Montreal Expos, a consultant for the Major League Baseball Players Association, a Pacific Rim scouting coordinator for the Chicago Cubs and a minor-league manager for the New York Mets.

He was also the first African American manager in Japanese baseball history and the technical adviser and an actor in the movie "Mr. Baseball," starring Tom Selleck.

Former NU star suspended

A's minor-league pitcher Gary Daley (Nevada Union) is one of 17 players suspended in 2013 by Major League Baseball. He is serving a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Methylphenidate, a banned drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The 27-year-old right-hander was 10-10 with a 5.11 ERA for the Double-A Midland RockHounds last season.

In 2012, MLB suspended 105 players, including Minnesota Twins minor-league catcher Michael Quesada (Folsom, Sierra). He tested positive for Methylhexanamine, a nasal decongestant that is believed to increase focus and energy.

More tributes

The La Salle Club inducted nine individuals into its Hall of Fame on April 27.

In addition to Lee, there were former major leaguers Fernando Arroyo (Burbank) and Butch Metzger (Kennedy); former minor leaguers Joe Gill (Bishop Armstrong), Gary Szakacs (Mira Loma), Gene Sackett (McClatchy, Sacramento City) and Leon Lee (Grant); and Tom Dicktakes (Sacramento, Sacramento City), Mike Green (Bishop Armstrong) and retired Bee sportswriter Nick Peters.

At a banquet earlier this year, Cordova High introduced its 2013 Hall of Fame class: legendary coach Guy Anderson and players Walt Hill (class of 1974), Gary Stonebrook (1987), David Staydohar (1987), Jason Beauchamp (1989) and Rich Haley (1990).

Haley was accompanied by his son, Boston Red Sox minor leaguer Justin Haley (Bella Vista). Hill's son, former All-Star second baseman Aaron Hill of the Arizona Diamondbacks, could not attend.

Nominations are out for the class of 2013 in McClatchy's Hall of Fame.

The baseball list includes Doug Pierce (1954), Jerry Silva (1957), Bill Bican (1959), Terry Fong (1959), Mike Furtado (1964), Mike Strahler (1965), Pat Fall (1966), Tracy Trotter (1966), Joe Kemp (1967), Rick Schanz (1968), Randy Brown (1968), Mike Honeycutt (1968), Bob Puliz (1970), Dean Stotz (1970), Ramon Gonzalez (1970), Gary Kelley (1970), Rowland Office (1970), John Warren (1971), Pete Covitch (1971), Terry Teale (1971), Joel Bishop (1972), Brad Klopp (1972), Scott Tenseth (1973), Randy Wong (1974), Chuck Wilborn (1975), Harlan Karnofsky (1976), Ted Wilborn (1976), Tony Montez (1977), Keith Davila (1978) and Ken Dowell (1979).

Strahler, Office, Dowell and both Wilborns played in the major leagues.

Bishop was a first-round draft pick in 1972. The finalists will be announced in June.

Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him egmacker@yahoo.com.

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