Matt McCune has taken advantage of his first opportunity of being a professional baseball player.
The 22-year-old Catalina Foothills High graduate signed with the independent Tucson Toros Wednesday after emerging from a list of local prospects.
“This is awesome,” said McCune during a press conference near the pitcher’s mound at Hi Corbett Field. “I am ready to get the season going. This is a good opportunity for me. It has always been my dream to be a professional baseball player. I am excited to pitch for the Tucson Toros.”
McCune, who works at a local UPS Store and also attends classes at the University of Arizona, was chosen from six pitchers invited back following Saturday’s tryout that drew 160 players.
“I knew I threw well even though no one spoke to me,” McCune said. “I felt I threw to my potential. I felt I did my job.”
McCune, a right-hander, went 5-0 at Foothills in his senior season of 2005, earning all-state honorable mention honors. He also played for GateWay Community College in Phoenix before going to Kansas Wesleyan University.
“He opened a lot of eyes,” Tucson manager Tim Johnson said. “We felt he was the right guy. I am going to put him in situations to get his feet wet a little bite and I am going to put him in situations where it’s going to be tough. We’re going to go game to game. But I feel good and our coaching staff feels good.
“He has good presence on the mound. He throws 88 and 89 (miles per hour). He’s not just a guy who tries to nibble. He know how to throw balls by guys. He has a good breaking ball and changeup. He has a good fastball.”
McCune was working his afternoon shift Tuesday at the UPS store near North Kolb Road and East Sunrise Drive when the Toros dropped in to tell him about the contract.
He plans to put his communication degree on hold at UA.
“I was leaning toward getting my degree in that and see what job openings there are,” McCune said. “Once I found out that the Toros were coming, there was nothing I wanted to be. I want to work hard and be a part of this club. I can always go back to (UA). This is my No. 1 priority.”
The Toros plan to invite 30-plus players to their spring training on Monday, including former local high school pitchers Jason Hanna and Tom Wihelmsen and Canadian Byron Bell, the club said.
Terry, Mavs need help
DALLAS – Ex-UA Wildcat Jason Terry is the Dallas Mavericks’ mood-lifter, the guy who pumps up teammates and fans every chance he gets.
Yet after enduring a second straight pounding in Denver, Terry couldn’t even fake being positive on Tuesday.
“Not tonight,” he said, declining to be interviewed. “I don’t have anything tonight.”
The Mavericks went into this second-round series convinced they could hang with the Nuggets, pointing to three narrow losses in the regular season as proof of how close they were. Besides, they proudly noted, they were on their best roll of the season, having blown through the San Antonio Spurs in five games.
So far, Denver has toyed with Dallas. Denver is up 2-0 in the series and 6-0 for the season. The Mavs must win four of the next five. Game 3 is Saturday in Dallas.
The Associated Press
NBA star has intruder
DALLAS – FBI agents have arrested a woman on a probation violation and theft of service warrants at the home of Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki.
Dallas police said 37-year-old Cristal Taylor was taken into custody Wednesday at Nowitzki’s home. She has eight aliases, police said.
The Associated Press
Big 12: Keep tiebreaker
PHOENIX – Big 12 coaches have rejected a proposal to change the controversial tiebreaker that gave Oklahoma the nod over Texas in the three-way tie in the Big 12 South last season.
Meeting at a resort on Wednesday, they voted to keep the Bowl Championship Series standings as the method to break ties between more than two teams. Under that rule, the Sooners edged the Longhorns by 13 thousandths of a point in December.
The coaches had considered adopting a three-team tiebreaker that would eliminate the lowest-ranked team in the BCS standings, then go to the head-to-head result of the remaining two teams.
If that had been in place last year, Texas Tech would have been eliminated, and Texas would have emerged as the division champion because it had defeated Oklahoma.
The Associated Press
ASU lands running back
PHOENIX – Deantre Lewis, a 5-foot-10, 189-pound running back from Norco (Calif.) High School has given an oral commitment to Arizona State, according to Scout.com.
Lewis, who was also being recruited by Oregon and Oregon State, is ASU’s second commitment for 2010, along with running back Taylor Walstad of Chandler High.
The Arizona Republic
Who was lowest-seeded team to win the NBA Finals?
Answer: The 1994-95 Houston Rockets, who defended their NBA title as the sixth seed. With series victories over the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic, the Rockets became the first NBA team to beat four teams with 50 or more wins in the playoffs.
ON THIS DATE
1972: The Los Angeles Lakers win their first NBA championship with a 114-100 victory over the New York Knicks in Game 5.
1977: Heavily favored Seattle Slew, ridden by Jean Cruguet, wins the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths over Run Dusty Run.
1982: A federal jury rules that the NFL violated antitrust laws when it unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the Oakland Raiders from moving to Los Angeles.
1995: Reggie Miller scores eight points in the last 16 seconds to lead Indiana to a 107-105 win over the Knicks in the second-round opener of the NBA playoffs.
Readers mixed on getting top basketball recruit
Re: Cats in running for Lance Stephenson
• Getting Lance out of New York and the circle of influence he runs with., and you may find a fresh start is exactly what he needs to rise above it all. ZOMBIE
• Take a guy with his issues, move him all the way across the country away from any sort of family/friends, and you’re asking for trouble. Regardless of how good this guy might be, it’s not worth the risk to the university’s basketball reputation. Pass on him. ARIZONA91
• I’m sure he isn’t the only kid brought into our program with a checkered past. The key is, UA has always had great leadership and a strong influence over these kids. If he brings value to the team, I say give the kid a chance. AZCAT01
• Did you guys see his YouTube stuff? He is just trying to market himself for the NBA. YOUSTRUELY