View Full Version : Former New Hanover star gets one-year deal/Reds' Narron recalls days with Munson

01-20-2007, 07:13 PM

Former New Hanover star gets one-year deal

By Chuck Carree
Staff Writer

Trot Nixon's chronically sore back is fine, and his 81 days as a baseball free agent are over after accepting a one-year, $3 million deal from the Cleveland Indians.

Nixon, who starred at New Hanover High School, filed for free agency in October after 13 seasons in the Boston Red Sox organization.

He revealed publicly for the first time Friday he underwent minor back surgery in December.

"I wasn't worried about the length of the contract,'' he said. "Obviously at this stage of the year, you'd just like to find a job.''

Nixon flew to Cleveland and passed the Indians' physical exam Thursday, leading to the agreement.

Cleveland's interest was initially mild, especially after signing another lefty bat, free agent outfielder David Dellucci, but gathered steam over the last week.

"We made some exploratory calls,'' said John Mirabelli, the Indians' assistant general manager and scouting director.

After reassessing the team's needs, Nixon became an attractive alternative.

Cleveland finished second in the major leagues in strikeouts, and Nixon has a career .366 on-base percentage.

"He doesn't strike out much,'' Mirabelli said.

Nixon, a career .278 hitter with 133 home runs and only 115 strikeouts the last two seasons, will platoon with right-handed Casey Blake in right field and bat second in the order.

"When he's healthy, he's a pretty good player," Mirabelli said.

He also is known as a team leader, an attribute Nixon thinks is invaluable, whether he sees significant playing time or not.

"If I play and help the team win, that's fine,'' he said. "If I'm not, I can still help the team win by being there for the teammates, like I always have been, patting them on the back and congratulating them. I'll go that route. Obviously the more veteran players you have, the stronger the team will be.''

Recent injuries have hampered Nixon's career, one including seasons of 27, 24 and 28 home runs from 2001-2003.

While batting a career-best .315, a herniated disk and strained left quadriceps limited him to 149 at-bats in 2004, but he hit .357 in the Red Sox's four-game World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Indians plan to gradually increase his playing time, and Nixon is satisfied with the one-year deal, which Mirabelli called fair.

"It is important to me to show I am healthy," Nixon said, "and not just to the Cleveland Indians, but to myself as well.''

Nixon reports to spring training in Winter Haven, Fla., next month.

Reds' Narron recalls days with Munson

By Chuck Carree
Staff Writer

For years, before he became a major league baseball manager, Jerry Narron was best known as catching the New York Yankees' next game following Thurman Munson's death in 1979.

Narron, now the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, and Munson were close.

"It was like losing somebody in your family and having to play a game after a death in the family,'' said Narron, the featured speaker Friday night at UNC-Wilmington's fifth Spring Training Baseball Banquet.

The Yankees didn't recover from Munson's death and made it through the rest of the season on professional pride.

"It was very difficult,'' he said.

Munson - a former American League Rookie of the Year, league MVP and the Yankees' first captain since Lou Gehrig - died in a plane crash during a rare off day. The team had played 14 consecutive days and Munson, the pilot, was in his hometown in Canton, Ohio, when the accident happened.

So before their next game, eight Yankees took the field before the national anthem. Narron, meanwhile, stayed near the dugout before trotting behind the plate.

"Up until that time, most teams would be in the dugout,'' he said. "I think every team would be in the dugout. I think that was the first time every team stood in front of the dugout. They just wanted to leave home plate vacant. I had a lot of support there with Yogi Berra and Elston Howard, ex-catchers there. So I stood with them.''

He acknowledged some of Munson's influence carried over into his managerial career.

"He didn't like me because I was tall and good looking,'' Narron said jokingly of Munson. "He would have loved that statement right there. He was always the first one to get on somebody.''

Narron retired as a player in 1989 and managed in the Baltimore Orioles' minor-league system for three years. He is in his third season with the Reds after taking over in 2005.

He wears No. 41 to honor his five children - four daughters and one son.

At the banquet, Narron offered the players advice, telling them to focus only on things they have control over in life and in baseball.

"Make sure you just don't mess them up,'' he said. "In baseball, you might hit the ball right on the nose and it gets caught.''

Attitude and hustle, he said, are the only things a player can control.

Narron also addressed the Seahawks in a private room at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside prior to the banquet and told them baseball is played no different in little league or the big leagues. He emphasized being fundamentally sound is the common denominator of all good teams.

Chuck Carree: 343-2262


01-20-2007, 09:00 PM
Jerry Narron and Trot Nixon were both in my Hometown to speak at UNCW Baseball Banquet. Trot graduated from my High School and I graduated from UNCW. I wish Narron could have signed Trot Nixon.