Sele Still Pitching -and Hoping

In speaking of past Las Vegas teams, the Dodgers director of player development, Terry Collins, said, "We'd have about 20 guys we brought in from other teams and only about four prospects. I won't be satisfied until we've changed that to the other way around."

Well, a look at this season's roster of the 51's would indicate that, while they're not quite there yet, they're getting close for only six players are of the itinerate types- infielders Wilson Valdez and Chris Truby, outfielder Jeff Duncan and pitchers Joe Beimel, Justin Reid and Aaron Sele. Of those, Sele isn't at all sure just how long he'll be around.

For sure he's the most distinguished of the group. From the time he was a first-round draft choice of the Red Sox back in 1991, he's compiled excellent credentials. Consider that he was-

Third in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting when he made the majors with Boston in 1993. The Sporting News named him AL Pitcher of the Year despite the fact that he made only 18 starts.

Twice a member of the AL All-Star squad.

A winner of 19 games with Texas in 1998 followed by seasons of 18 wins with the Rangers and 17 and 15 with Seattle.

A member of the Angels" World Champs in 2002.

A veteran of 13 major league seasons (all spent in the American League), totaling 137 victories over that span.

Obviously, no ordinary pitcher, this righthander but, just as clearly, then was then. After that came the arm problems that finally resulted in the Mariners letting him go in mid-season last year. He signed a minor league contract with the Rangers, only to pitch in just two games before drifting away again.

This spring, he made his comeback attempt as a non-roster invitee with the Dodgers, throwing the ball efficiently for the most part. Well enough that he was given serious consideration for a spot on the opening day roster, only to be told (along with Brian Meadows), that he wasn't going to make it for now , anyway, receiving instead the offer of a job with Vegas.

Both he and Meadows had the right to opt out which Brian promptly did (signing quickly with Tampa Bay). Sele, however, had no such options. He mulled it over, contemplating going home to Washington state where he and wife Jennifer are the parents of three girls.

The competitive fires, however, haven't been dampened yet so it's Sele's hope that this sojourn in the desert will produce either a recall to Los Angeles or offers from other big league clubs. If the latter happens, the Dodgers have agreed to let him go.

In the meantime, he's the number three man in the rotation for Vegas, behind Chad Billingsley and D. J. Houlton. He's throwing the ball well enough that interest might be there . While he's been a starter for most of his career, he'll gladly take a bullpen assignment if it means getting back to the bigs.

A return to something like the glory days of old? That would be too much to ask but a competent workman who can come in and get some outs? That Sele still looks capable of doing. In the past, a number of those gypsies who came in this fashion have gone on to help others. One- Tanyon Sturtze- is still with the Yankees, as a matter of fact.

So, Sele labors for Las Vegas- and checks his phone messages regularly to see if that call has come. At age 35, he's long past the prospect stage but he's not ready to fade gently out of the picture, either.