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Nix Is Looking Like a Throwback

May 15, 1999|DAVE DESMOND

Wayne Nix is finally starting to resemble the flame-thrower the Oakland Athletics selected in the fourth round of the 1995 draft.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound right-hander from Monroe High has struck out 23 batters in 21 innings for the class-A Modesto A's of the California League.

Not bad for a 22-year-old who underwent reconstructive surgery on his pitching arm in March of 1996.

Nearly four years after signing, Nix is playing for a full-season team for the first time.

"You sometimes wonder where I'd be now if [the surgery] never happened," said Nix, the City Section player of the year in 1995. "But thinking like that doesn't get you anywhere."

Nix sat out all of 1996 after the surgery and spent the last two seasons in the Arizona Rookie League and in the short-season Northwest League, trying to recapture the lightning that enabled him to strike out 143 batters in 90 innings as a high school senior.

"The important thing was to get my strength back and not worry about where my stats were," said Nix, who was 7-9 with a 5.49 earned-run average over two seasons.

He appears to have succeeded.

Nix, who topped out at 96 mph and consistently threw in the 93-94 mph range at Monroe, is throwing between 89 and 91 mph this season.

And, most importantly, without pain.

Nix's recovery has been aided by Modesto's unorthodox eight-man pitching rotation.

Two pitchers team up for each game during a four-day cycle, with each alternating between starting and relieving. They are restricted to five innings or 75 pitches, whichever comes first.

The strategy seems to be working for Modesto. The A's (24-10) have the best record in the Cal League and are second in ERA at 3.80. Friday was Nix's turn to pitch in relief at San Jose.

"It's just nice to be pitching," said Nix, who entered with a 2-2 record and 2.57 ERA. "I don't even worry about [my arm] anymore. I wake up the next day and no longer have to overload on Advil."


Three pitchers from the region are making significant contributions for the Kansas City Royals.

Kevin Appier, formerly of Antelope Valley High and Antelope Valley College, and Jeff Suppan, formerly of Crespi High, entered Thursday leading the club in innings with 50 and 45 1/3, respectively.

Appier was 4-2 with a 4.32 ERA. Suppan was 2-3 with a 3.57 ERA.

Left-handed reliever Matt Whisenant, formerly of La Canada, had a 1.50 ERA and was limiting opponents to a .108 average through 14 appearances.


Former Crespi High pitcher Keith Evans was scheduled to make his second start for triple-A Ottawa on Friday night at Louisville.

The right-hander was promoted from double-A Harrisburg by the Montreal Expos last week.

Evans, who was 0-2 with a 3.76 ERA in double A, had a tough time last Sunday in his triple-A debut, allowing 11 hits and four earned runs in five innings of a 7-4 loss to Indianapolis.


Fernando Rios, an outfielder from Glendale High, also switched uniforms recently.

The Cincinnati Reds, who have two affiliates in the class-A Midwest League, shuffled Rios from the Rockford Reds to the Clinton Lumberkings on Thursday.

Rios entered the weekend batting .275.


Ed Campaniello, formerly of Agoura High, is batting a league-leading .486 for the Rimini Pirates in the Serie A1, Italy's top professional league.

Campaniello also has two home runs and 11 runs batted in for the first-place Pirates (11-1).

Rimini teammate Jim Vatcher, formerly of Cal State Northridge, also ranks among league batting leaders with a .367 average.

Campaniello, an Italian-American, hopes to make Italy's Olympic team in 2000 and will represent the country at the European Championships in July.


Short hops: Outfielder Gabe Kapler, formerly of Taft High and Moorpark College, hit safely in his first 11 games after being recalled to the Detroit Tigers on April 30. The streak ended with an 0-for-4 game Wednesday against Oakland. . . . Shortstop Ramon Valera, suspended by the JetHawks for insubordination after refusing to wear a uniform on May 3, was reactivated this week and assigned to extended spring training. He was batting .185 for Lancaster. . . .

Former Santa Paula High outfielder Brent Cookson leads Albuquerque, the Dodgers' triple-A affiliate, with seven home runs. . . . Kevin Millar, who attended Hart, leads the White Sox's triple-A team in Calgary with 115 at-bats and 39 hits. . . . Frank Charles, formerly of Montclair Prep, leads triple-A Las Vegas of the Padre organization with 11 doubles. . . . Former Cal State Northridge shortstop Adam Kennedy, the St. Louis Cardinals' first pick in 1997, leads triple-A Memphis in home runs (five) and RBIs (22).

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