The quest for Major League Baseball glory for Johnston County natives Chris Archer and Jerry Sands will begin in the minor leagues this season. Both players were optioned to their club’s Triple-A camp last week.
Archer, a 23-year-old right-handed starting pitcher from Clayton, will be close to home again in Durham, Tampa Bay’s top minor league club. He was one of four candidates for the Rays’ fifth starter spot in the pitching rotation entering spring training.
Archer, who went 1-3 in six appearances as a spot pitcher with the Rays last season, expressed surprise with the move, but took it in stride.
"Something’s going to happen every year,” he told MLB.com. “Somebody goes down or they need an extra arm or whatever, so I’m going to make the most of my opportunity when I come up, but continue to maximize my potential in the Minor Leagues.”
He had a solid spring training, not allowing an earned run in three appearances for the Rays, picking up one win. He gave up a single hit and struck out five batters.
“For sure, we believe Archer could be here right now,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com. “But you can’t have everybody, so we want to keep him ready in the event something were to happen, he’d be stretched out properly and be able to jump right into it. It’s kind of a nice problem to have when you’re that thick that you’re sending back guys who are that good.”
Sands, who was traded to the Pirates from the Red Sox in the off-season, is likely to being the season at Indianapolis. The 25-year-old outfielder/first baseman hit just .182 in spring training this season for the Pirates, going 4-for-22.
The former Smithfield-Selma High standout has 70 games of Major League experience with the Dodgers.
Harrison is first-team All-American: Former Clayton High standout Keni Harrison was named a first-team indoor All-American by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association this past week.
Harrison, a sophomore, had a season’s best time of 8.13 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles at the ACC Championships.
Clayton anglers finish fourth: Mike Hodge and Tim Wall of Clayton finished fourth in the 2013 Boats Unlimiited N.C. Team Tournament event held March 2 at Shearon Harris Lake. The pair totaled a three-bass catch of 12.95 pounds and won $545.
Tony Woodard of Four Oaks teamed with Apex’s Scott Smith to take sixth with an 11-pound haul.
Neuse Charter sets spring teams: Neuse Charter School is fielding high school track and field, baseball and boys golf teams this spring. The Cougars will play their home baseball games at Smithfield Community Park. Jeremy Repka and Rudy Fletcher are the coaches.
The track team, led by Greg Stephenson and Gail Browning, will run in mainly Carolina 1A Conference meets.
The boys golf team will compete with the other Johnston County schools in the weekly golf matches throughout the county as well as the Carolina 1A Conference matches each week. Clint Westergard is the golf coach.
The Cougars, who will also field middle school baseball, girls soccer and track teams this spring, will join the Carolina 1A Conference next fall.
Best: 919-524-8895; @dclaybest