Fingerhold on a baseball career
From Marines in Iraq to Padres in Spring Training, Minus a Finger
By GREGG BELL
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) -One by one, more than 80 players seated on a back field of the Padres' spring training complex stood and gave their names and where they were last season.
"Jesus Lopez. Fort Wayne. Eugene."
Class-A teammates laughed and teased.
"Michael Johnson. Pittsburgh Pirates. Indianapolis."
The group welcomed Johnson into the organization.
Then a tall, broad-shouldered and tanned No. 40 stood.
"Cooper Brannan. United States Marine Corps."
No one said a word.
No one had to. They all knew the story of the player unlike any other in camp. Or in baseball this spring. Brannan, a 22-year-old Marine infantryman home from a second tour of duty in Iraq because he lost a finger to a grenade, is trying to win a minor league pitching job with San Diego.
"It's not every day.....