Hode, Rowlett Start Professional Careers

FAYETTEVILLE -- Former Arkansas players Scott Hode and Casey Rowlett began their professional baseball careers Tuesday night on two different coasts.

While Rowlett was wide awake Tuesday morning, Hode was trying to stop yawning.

"Yeah, we've two hours earlier than you," Hode said. "That's OK, I just got up.

"No problem."

Hode played in Everett, Wash. on Tuesday night, Rowlett played a home game in Augusta, N.J.

Hode plays for the Boise (Idaho) Hawks -- a Chicago Cubs affiliate-- who opened the season against the Everett Aquasox.

Rowlett plays for the New Jersey Cardinals -- a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate -- who played against Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters.

Both players are in short-season Class A ball.

"We've got 76 games in 80 days," Rowlett said. "That doesn't give you much time off during the season. There's a lot of baseball to be played.

"It's exciting because I'm still getting a chance to play."

Hode, senior shortstop from Crystal Lake, Ill., was drafted in the 24th round (730th pick overall) by the Chicago Cubs on the second day of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on June 8.

On the same day, Rowlett, a senior center fielder from Jones, Okla., was picked in the 32nd round (980th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rowlett was suspended, along with senior second baseman Scott Bridges, for violating a team rule on March 29.

Bridges was drafted in the eighth round by the San Francisco Giants (252nd pick overall) on June 7, but Monday said he would not pursue a professional career.

Rowlett is the starting third baseman for New Jersey. Hode is playing both shortstop and second for Boise.

"I'm excited about getting started," Hode said. "We got to Boise last Friday and we all are getting used to each other and learning about life professional baseball.

"It's kind of exciting. For example, I've never been in this part of the country. We took a 10-hour bus ride up here and it was pretty scenic."

Hode, who hit .309 with 3 homers and 26 RBIs this season, was named to the all-tournament team at the NCAA Austin (Texas) Regional earlier this month.

"I've learned already in pro ball, you've pretty much on your own," Hode said. "You are responsible for everything, including getting to the ballpark on time."

Hode's roommate is Davy Gregg, who played his college baseball at South Carolina.

"It helps to know somebody here," Hode said. "I played against Davy for three years in college. There are a couple of other guys from the Southeastern Conference in this league (Northwest League). That's kind of neat, too."

At the time of his suspension, Rowlett was hitting a team-leading .473 with 1 home run and 24 RBIs. He was 16 of 18 on stolen bases attempts.

He started all 23 games in which he played and had a 22-game hitting streak.

"They've had me playing third base, shortstop and second since I've been here," Rowlett said. "I haven't played any center field yet, but it doesn't matter.

"I just wanted a chance to play."

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