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Stormers Add Two Players

Stormers Add Two Players
Sports Staff

As the final days of spring training unfolded, Ryan Mulhern knew the math was working against him.

The Pittsburgh Pirates told him he was one of three players vying for the final spot on their Triple-A roster.

Although Mulhern has enjoyed Triple-A success in the past, he's 28 and this was going to be his first full season with the Pirates .

It wasn't looking good.

"When they called me in, I knew what it was," the first baseman said. "I was the odd man out."

This was a new experience for Mulhern. For the first time since the Cleveland Indians drafted him in the 11th round in 2003, he was out of professional Baseball.

The news left him facing an obvious question: Where should he go from here?

Mulhern decided his next stop was the Barnstormers. He and pitcher Jon Huber became the newest additions to Lancaster's team on Thursday.

Neither Mulhern nor Huber thought much about independent ball before they signed here. That's how it often works. Players don't worry about this option until they're forced to consider it as a last resort.

Mulhern's arrival gives the Barnstormers another power bat in the order alongside outfielders Jason Perry and L.J. Biernbaum and third baseman Aaron Herr.

In 93 games at two Triple-A stops last season, Mulhern batted .234 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs. He has reached double figures in home runs in each of the past four seasons, including 32 homers split between Single-A and Double-A in 2005.

Huber, 27, has enjoyed a generally successful minor-league career. The 6-2, 195-pound righthander reached the big leagues with the Seattle Mariners in 2006 and 2007, going 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 25 appearances.

Huber was with the Detroit Tigers this spring, but was one of their final cuts as the team broke camp. At that point he faced the same question Mulhern faced and decided to follow the same route.

"This was the first time I've ever been released," Huber said. "The word for me was scared, I guess. I have a family and a baby on the way. I know indy ball is good Baseball, but as far as money-wise, you don't make anything."

Huber considered venturing south to Mexico before deciding the Atlantic League gave him a better shot at getting re-signed by a big-league organization. He chose to take the financial hit and play in Lancaster.

The Barnstormers needed a right-handed reliever to work the late innings and serve as a complement to lefty closer Ryan Cullen. Huber fits the bill.

Huber has been a closer in the past. He spent last season with the Mariners at Triple-A Tacoma, going 4-3 with a 6.40 ERA in 52 games.

Mulhern and Huber both feel like they were close to sticking with their organizations last month, which leaves them hungry for another chance to play at the high levels of the minors.

"A lot of it is out of my control," Mulhern said. "What is in my control is playing and working hard. If I put up numbers, that's what someone will see and come get you. All I can do is play and perform."

Added Huber:

"My mindset is to go in there and be motivated and get picked up," he said. "I'm going to try to have fun with it and try to get back."

The Barnstormers have 21 players under contract as they await the start of spring training Monday.

The team has finished its search for position players and starting pitchers. It expects to add more arms to the bullpen before camp opens.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 11, 2009

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