Outlook for OVBL still strong in ’14

If last week’s organizational meeting of the Ohio Valley Baseball League is any indication of what is in store for this summer, fans should be treated to another outstanding season.

The 11-team league from a year ago will undergo some change as Neffs, who has been a long-time member of the summer circuit, has dropped out. It has been rumored that Warren Township has also decided to call it quits after a brief stint.

However, all is not lost as the Belmont County Cubs have expressed interest and will be joining the league this season. According to team representative Timmy Smith, the Cubs will play their home games at the St. C. Junior Sports Complex.

League President Laney Simone presided over the meeting, which was attended by team reps from Barton, Belmont County, Lafferty, Marshall County, Maynard and the Wheeling Cardinals.

Also expressing some interest are teams from Powhatan Point and Brooke County.

“It should make for an interesting summer,” Simone said following the meeting. “We’ve got 10 pretty solid teams, with the possibility of adding a couple more.”

However, he was quick to note that it is still very early.

“A lot of things can, and most likely will, happen between now and May,” he stressed. “We were down to the last day last year before Lafferty came up with a team. That threw a wrench into everything, but we got a new schedule made up and everything went well.”

Maynard, coached by Simone, captured the championship by defeating Lafferty in the finals.

In addition to the aforementioned squads, back for another season of summer baseball are Weirton, West Liberty, the Wheeling Yankees and Shadyside.

Those in attendance kicked around a couple of ideas that could enhance the play on the field. The issues centered around the controversial re-entry rule, instituting some type of mercy-rule, and the possibility of having an All-Star Game during Beast of the East Week.

“Nothing we talked about the other night was set in stone,” Simone pointed out. “We just needed to talk about certain things and see what everybody thinks.”

He said another meeting would be held sometime in early March. Stay tuned.

Donnelly Back in the Saddle

Steubenville native Rich Donnelly is moving back up baseball’s managerial ladder.

After spending the past three seasons leading the New York Mets’ Class A Brooklyn Cyclones, the 67-year-old has been named the 29th manager of the Tacoma Rainiers, the Class AAA farm team of the Seattle Mariners.

In his three seasons in Brooklyn, the Cyclones won 128 games, the second-most in franchise history.

A veteran of 43 professional baseball seasons, he has 27 years in the major leagues as a coach with four different teams, including the Pirates, Marlins, Rockies and Dodgers.

Roe a Marlin

Another Jefferson County product, Chaz Roe, has a new home.

Roe, a right-handed reliever who was born in Steubenville and raised in Smithfield before matriculating to Kentucky, has signed with the Miami Marlins. The former Arizona reliever received a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

Roe rejected his outright assignment to the minor leagues by the Texas Rangers recently and opted to become a free agent. He was designated for assignment when the Rangers picked up left-handed pitcher Pedro Figueroa on a waiver claim from the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rangers acquired Roe on a waiver claim from Arizona on Nov. 1. He was 1-0 with a 4.03 ERA in 21 games (22 1/3 innings) last season, making his big league debut with the Diamondbacks.