Benusa back home, playing ball for Wild Things
From his everyday surroundings to the people he interacts with, life has changed quite a bit for Gus Benusa.
But one constant has remained for the Riverview High School product: baseball. And as long as he's suiting up and taking the field every day, he's happy.
Released by the San Francisco Giants in July after a stint in the minors, the 21-year-old outfielder prolonged his career by signing with the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League.
Benusa took the first offer he had, signing a few days after exiting the Arizona Rookie League.
“The Giants talked to me and said they'd help me get on another team,” Benusa said. “They called (Washington) the day I got released. They told me to come and play.
“I am getting the chance to play every day; I didn't get that chance with the Giants. I love it.”
His impact was immediate.
In just his 10th game with Washington, the right fielder delivered a two-out, walk-off single to down the London Rippers, 6-5, at Consol Energy Park.
Benusa played 41 games for the Wild Things, hitting .260 with 26 runs, six doubles, four triples, a home run and 13 RBI. He batted in the No. 3 spot in the order.
Although the chances of getting picked up by another major league team are slim, Benusa isn't giving up hope. All the while, he's giving his all to help the Wild Things win.
“There's always a chance,” he said. “But it's not a big deal. You see plenty of guys come and go. I am so grateful for this opportunity. I am one of the youngest guys in the league.”
An eighth-round draft pick of the Giants in 2009, the former WPIAL MVP hit .252 (39 for 155) with 19 RBI and 31 runs in roughly three minor league seasons.
Benusa said, in terms of income, he's making about the same amount every two weeks that he made with San Francisco.
Benusa is an everyday starter for Washington, but baseball isn't the only thing on his mind. He said he's entertaining the thought of going to college. As per his contract with the Giants, the team will pay for his education, assuming he enrolls within two years after his release.
Out of high school, he committed to Duquesne but chose to sign with the Giants instead of taking a scholarship. Duquesne later eliminated its baseball program in a cost-cutting effort.
“I am thinking about school,” he said. “Unless I'm picked up by another team.”
The left-hander had Tommy John elbow surgery in June 2010, which set him back slightly. But he said his health is fine.
Oakmont still keeps a close watch on Benusa. The high school baseball team attended a Wild Things game earlier in the season.
“It was great to see the guys come out,” Benusa said. “Coach (Rich) Griser was there, too. It's nice being close to home. My family can come see me play more.”
Benusa stays with a host family in Canonsburg, rather than make an hour commute from Oakmont.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.