Richard Salazar never has pitched in the big leagues — and at age 31, with a fastball in the 80s and no major-league organization to call his own since the Baltimore Orioles cut him in 2007 — it is unlikely he ever will.
But the former Miami Dade College standout will get a chance to strike out major-league batters in March.
That’s when Salazar, a 5-11, 200-pound left-hander, will represent his ancestral home of Spain in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Most of baseball’s brightest stars will compete in the international event, which is down to 16 teams and will culminate with the title game on March 19 at San Francisco.
Salazar, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, would love to face one All-Star in particular.
“ Miguel Cabrera,” Salazar said of the Detroit Tigers third baseman and American League Triple Crown winner.
“My family and friends say that if I have to pitch against my country [Venezuela], then Cabrera is the batter to face.”
Salazar, who led MDC to a state title in 2001, was the Orioles’ 13th-round pick that year. He reached Triple A in 2007, but he was released that winter and has pitched in independent leagues ever since.
He is still hoping for a shot at a better league — if not the majors, then Japan, Mexico or even Italy.
Salazar, and his wife, Yessica Lopez, have a daughter, Stephanie, 7, and there have been a couple times, he admits, when he thought about quitting baseball and finding another way to support his family.
“But my wife and my parents told me not to quit,” Salazar said.
“They know how much I love the game.”
That love has taken him to play for teams in a lot of small towns in the United States, from Sioux City, Iowa to Frederick, Md.; Wichita, Kansas; and Shreveport, La.
When the summer ends, he pitches winter ball in his native Venezuela.
But how much longer he can play remains to be seen.
“My wife said my arm and my body will tell me when it’s time,” he said. “I just don’t know when that will be.
“All I know is that I have no regrets. I’ve given 100 percent every day, and I’m still doing that.”
Men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino won his first college game a week ago, prevailing at Coastal Carolina. On the same day, his father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, was absorbing a tough loss against Duke. Of course, ESPN pointed out that it was Rick Pitino’s first game against Duke since the 1992 NCAA Tournament, when Christian Laettner’s famous turnaround jumper beat Kentucky at the buzzer.
Former Nova golfer Sandra Changkija recently finished her rookie season in 112th place on the LPGA money list. Changkija, 23, earned $35,826, and her best performance was a 10th-place finish at the Manulife Financial tour stop in Waterloo, Ontario.
“It makes me feel good to know that someone I had a least a little impact on someone who can have that type of success at the highest level,” Nova coach Amanda Brown said. “I’m really proud of Sandra, and I mention her to almost every recruit. I let them know that we can help you turn pro if that is what you want.”