Tracy McGrady is prepared to pursue a career in baseball, the former seven-time NBA all-star confirmed on Tuesday.
The story was originally broken by McGrady's former coach with the Houston Rockets, Jeff Van Gundy, during ESPN's NBA coverage on Friday night and further investigated by Randy McIlvoy of KPRC in Houston. Both indicated that McGrady was deep into workouts with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League — including occasional meetings with Roger Clemens — and very serious about giving baseball a shot.
Now there's no question about his intentions after McGrady and the Skeeters released the following statements.
“As some of you may have heard, I have been practicing with The Sugar Land Skeeters, and working out at Constellation Field. It has been a longtime childhood dream to play baseball and for the past few months I have worked on my pitching with the team. Don’t yet know where this will go but I do know I am having a great time and throwing pretty well. Love the game of baseball and always wanted to give it a try. Feels like I am a kid again, playing a sport for the pure love of the game. @SL_Skeeters @AtlanticLg”
“Tracy McGrady is one of the most elite athletes of this era and we appreciate his interest in pursuing a life-long dream with the Sugar Land Skeeters and the Atlantic League. While the Atlantic League is considered the highest level of baseball outside of Major League Baseball, McGrady has demonstrated skill, determination and diligence during his training program at Constellation Field. We look forward to monitoring his progress.”
McGrady, who will turn 35 in May, will pursue his career as a pitcher. According to the reports, the 6-foot-8 right-hander was hitting 90-91 mph during his recent workouts and appeared to have good enough stuff to be competitive. That's encouraging. However, how that will translate once live hitters step into the batter's box is anybody's guess. That's the next hurdle he'll have to clear to make this work, and Clemens indicates he still has a ways to go before attempting the jump.
“(He) needs more time and needs to react to live hitters and balls coming back (toward) him,” Clemens said of McGrady.
— Jose de Jesus Ortiz (@OrtizKicks) February 4, 2014
Learning how to field his position and protect himself will be a big part of his transition. McGrady's athletic enough to get it down, but he'll definitely be a big target on the mound with a lot of moving parts until he smooths things out. From all accounts, McGrady's ready and willing to put all of the necessary work in.
Now we wait and see how the progress goes. Speaking realistically, it's a long shot, but it probably won't be long before we know one or the other if he has a chance of making an impact on the diamond and becoming a legitimate two sport superstar.
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