Plum native McGough earns degree, focuses on returning to form
A year older, Scott McGough also is a year wiser as he gets set for another season in the minor leagues.
The proof is in his new diploma.
While many players were vacationing or doing other things to occupy their free time, McGough, a Plum native who will pitch out of the bullpen for the Jacksonville Suns — the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins — spent his offseason getting his college degree.
Taking advantage of Major League Baseball's College Scholarship Plan, which provides money for drafted players to use later for college, McGough returned to Oregon to earn a political science degree.
“I guess I'm no longer a chump,” McGough, 24, said with a laugh.
“It's actually pretty rare for guys to go back to school. I know Oregon is happy, and my parents are pleased and proud.”
Now, the hard-throwing right-hander will try to work his way back from an injury that has him on the disabled list.
He was pitching in a spring training game when he strained his right forearm.
McGough, a Southern League All-Star last season who pitched two games in Triple-A with the New Orleans Zephyrs as a stop-gap call-up, said the injury was painful.
“I pitched through it and tried to finish, but I was throwing meatballs. I was saying, ‘Please, hit it to somebody.' ”
The Suns opened the season last week. Rest and rehab will help get McGough game-ready to rejoin his teammates.
But he said there are times it hurts just to turn a door knob.
“For every week I am off and not throwing, that's two weeks of rehab,” McGough said.
“My goal is to be back by June 1. I don't think I'll miss a beat. I am excited to see my teammates and coaches again.”
McGough went 4-3 last season with a 2.63 ERA and a save in 36 games.
All things considered, life is good for McGough. After a visit to the field for stretching, running and lifting each day, he gets to hang out on the beach in Jupiter, Fla.
But life would be even better with a bump to the majors, any player's ultimate moment in the sun.
McGough believes his name is on the big-league radar.
“It's good to have people see you within the organization,” he said.
“I hope to reap the benefits of playing in the all-star game and throwing well in an all-star game. It's a nice feather in my cap. My goal still is to help the team win. The other things, I feel, will come along with that. For now, it's time to heal up and get back on the field.”
He was drafted by the Pirates in the 46th round in 2008 but increased his value immensely by taking a scholarship to Oregon. In 2011, the Los Angeles Dodgers grabbed him in the fifth round, and he played in their farm system until a four-player trade in July 2012 moved him to Miami.
In that deal, All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez went to the Dodgers.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.
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