02/16/07 7:05 PM ET
Notes: Fortune smiling on White
Journeyman reliever ends up with wildly valuable property
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Jason Schmidt? Jeff Kent? Frank McCourt?
It could be Matt White.
White is a 29-year-old left-handed journeyman pitcher in camp on a Minor League contract who's pitched a total of 9 2/3 Major League innings in nine professional seasons and he's sitting on a gold mine.
Actually, it's a rock quarry.
Four years ago, White bought a 50-acre piece of property in Massachusetts from his ailing Aunt Josephine, who was going into a nursing home. He planned to build a house on the property, but discovered it to be absolutely covered with rock. A geologist determined the property was loaded with mica schist, a slate-like shiny metamorphic stone used for patio decks and other construction.
"I never built the house and instead started selling the rock," said White, whose father runs the business. "It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The geologist said I've got 24 million tons of it and it sells for $100 a ton."
So, according to White's math, he's sitting on a $2.4 billion mountain of rock. That's billion, with a "B." The property cost him $50,000.
He could parlay the fortunate real estate play into buying, say, a baseball club. It's been known to happen. So, why still bother with baseball on the player end, especially with the likelihood of cracking the Dodgers' deep Major League pitching staff no better than remote?
"This is fun," said White, who has played with Boston, Seattle and Washington. "I wouldn't retire. What else am I going to do?"
A teammate of Billy Koch and Kris Benson at Clemson, White was originally drafted by Cleveland and was twice taken in the Rule 5 draft. He spent the 2006 season at Philadelphia's Triple-A affiliate at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he was 7-9 with a 3.58 ERA and played winter ball in Venezuela.
Repko repaired: Outfielder Jason Repko said for the first spring in about five years, he doesn't need a cortisone shot before stepping on the field.
Two weeks after the Dodgers were swept in the playoffs, Repko underwent an ultrasound-guided shockwave therapy to once-and-for-all eliminate plantar fasciitis, a painful heel ailment he's dealt with since the Minor Leagues.
The procedure took 15 minutes, but his rehab included an initial month of rest. He said the constant pain is gone and he's confident it won't return.
The heel problem, however, is not related to the high ankle sprain he suffered last season that robbed him of almost three months of the season. Repko said the ankle still doesn't feel completely normal, but he's convinced it has healed enough that he has regained his greatest asset his running speed.
"I'm ready to go," he said.
Repko was married in November. Other teammate newlyweds include pitchers Chad Billingsley and Tim Hamulack and catcher Mike Lieberthal.
Relievers making progress: Closer Takashi Saito is still receiving treatment for a strained right calf muscle suffered during workouts in Japan a month ago and aggravated two weeks ago. He is able to throw without discomfort, but is not expected to participate in defensive drills or anything requiring quick running movements until he is completely healed.
Yhency Brazoban, who underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction 10 months ago, is said to be on schedule with his rehabilitation. He has begun throwing on flat ground and is expected to graduate to a mound as early as next week, but there is no timetable for game action.
"It feels good. No problems," Brazoban said.
Backup for starting backstop: Manager Grady Little said he wants to give catcher Russell Martin more time off this year than he had last year, when he played 121 games for the Dodgers despite not being called up until five weeks into the season.
"We pushed him pretty hard last year and he never missed a beat," said Little. "How much time off we give him depends on how the off-days fall and his health."
Little said he did not plan to have a former Philadelphia battery of backup Lieberthal catching Randy Wolf as evolved last year when Toby Hall often caught fellow former Devil Ray Mark Hendrickson.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.