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UCI pitcher on sideline

College Baseball

Trentacosta, drafted but not signed by Cardinals, is not eligible for Anteaters this season.

October 02, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
(Courtesy of UC Irvine )

Mark Trentacosta is between a mound and a hard place.

Through no fault of his own and by a convergence of head-scratching rulings, readings and regulations, the UC Irvine senior is a pitcher in name only. But the man without a team has an incredible story, and a cause that will confuse anyone who clings to common sense.

It began last June when the UC Irvine left-hander, who posted a 2.91 earned-run average, won his only decision and struck out 26 in 34 innings for the Anteaters, was drafted in the 34th round by the St. Louis Cardinals.

While filling out pre-draft information cards, routine procedure for teams interested in learning more about prospects, Trentacosta mentioned a slight back strain. The injury was treated by UCI trainers, but was not severe enough to ever keep him from competing. He said any discomfort caused by the injury, which occurred while lifting weights, was gone by the time he finished his college season in May.

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Trentacosta, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who also pitched successfully for Golden West Community College and Marina High before walking on at UCI, said he agreed to terms over the phone with the Cardinals before they drafted him. It was more of a privilege than a pledge.

"When I was first talking to the Cardinals, I said I'm not looking for money," Trentacosta said. "I just want an opportunity to go out and play [professional baseball]. Whatever you'll pay me, I'll sign for, pretty much."

It was music to any sports executive's ears, but the tune quickly hit a sour note.

Days after the draft, the Cardinals flew Trentacosta to Florida for a physical at their spring training headquarters. He stayed at the team hotel in Palm Beach during his three-night stay.

From Florida, he was shipped to Johnson City, Tenn., where he worked out with the Johnson City Cardinals, a short-season rookie league affiliate. He sat and watched the second day and reported to the clubhouse to prepare for another workout on Day 3.

Before he did anything baseball related that third day, he was summoned to the coaching staff's office. Immediately uplifted by the request, Trentacosta assumed he was being given the go-ahead to begin the career he had always dreamed of pursuing.

But like Crash Davis in a scene from "Bull Durham," Trentacosta was instead notified of his release.

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