Youth turnout for baseball clinic

LIHUE — Approximately 50 of Kauai’s aspiring baseball players, aged from 6 to 14, took advantage of the Chevrolet Youth Baseball Clinic hosted in partnership with the MLB Baseball Alumni Association Wednesday at the Lihue County Park.

Glenn Mickens, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and a baseball coach at University of California, Los Angeles, wanted to know why there weren’t more.

“There should be a lot more players,” Mickens said. “We have all this talent from the Major League Baseball, and the clinic is free. People should have been able to come to the park and get on.”

Registration was done online, but walk-ons would have been accepted, said Beth Heyer, the clinic coordinator with Devon Thrasher.

“This is not the best time to have a clinic like this,” said Brian Yamase, who stopped in to watch the activity. “This is tournament time and a lot of teams are traveling, including the Kauai Yankees who are in Japan playing baseball. A lot of the teams have wrapped up their season, and the kids are moving ahead to the next sport.”

Young players who took advantage of the highly interactive session were treated to instruction and tips from former MLB players, including Kauai natives Mickens and Tyler Yates.

They were joined by Ron Robinson, a pitcher who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round in the 1980 draft and went on to play nine seasons for the Reds and Brewers; Rene Gonzales, a 13-year MLB veteran who played every position in the majors except catcher; and Albert Lopez, a pitcher drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 20th round of the 1991 draft and a member of the 2001 World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

Cathy Braun had two of her children at the clinic, working through the stations on pitching, hitting, catching, base running and more.

“My kids have come to this for the last several years,” Braun said. “Kennedy plays for coach Micah Furtado, and he would have been here, too, but they’re still playing and the team needs to practice. This is really good for the kids.”

Following the workouts, all of the players were treated to an autographed baseball signed by the participating MLB alumni players as well as a healthy snack to wrap up the day.

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