The circumstance, or timing, may not be ideal, but Anthony Vega is on his way to achieving his lifelong dream of getting a college degree. Vega, a Patchogue native, will be leaving the Ducks on Saturday to attend the University of Arizona, where he is majoring in computer engineering.
As part of the deal he signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 2012, Vega must resume his schooling within two years of his release. Baltimore released him in April of 2015, forcing Vega to have to work his Duck duties around completing his degree.
“Baseball has been my life for an extended period of time now,” Vega, 26, said. “I’ve played the game since I was 5 and this is the first time I’ve ever left a team for any reason other than being told I have to. It’s a little disappointing. But it’s also exciting. A life goal of mine is to get my degree, whether I made it to the big leagues or not. It just happens to be that circumstances dictate that I have to do it now.”
Vega, who joined the Ducks three weeks into the season because he was completing the spring semester, entered the weekend hitting .243 with two home runs and 16 RBIs in 51 games.
“He’s a good player and a big part of the Ducks organization,” Ducks manager Kevin Baez said. “He has speed and can hit. He’s a threat out there. To not have him there, guys are going to have to pick up the slack a little bit . . . You have a certain window where the opportunity is there for you. You have to take advantage of it. Education is very important. We support him and hope the best for him.”
Simon almost throws no-hitter . . . kind of
Former National League All-Star turned Ducks starter Alfredo Simon came within two outs of throwing a no-hitter in the opener of the Ducks’ doubleheader sweep of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Tuesday night at Bethpage Ballpark.
Although impressive, it deserves context. Games during single admission Atlantic League doubleheaders are limited to seven innings. So, Simon’s final line reads: no runs on three hits in seven innings.
Entering this weekend’s series with Southern Maryland, Simon was 2-3 with a 4.67 ERA in 10 appearances (seven starts).
It marked the second time a Ducks pitcher has flirted with history in the final inning. Matt Larkins threw eight no-hit innings against the Somerset Patriots on June 15 before allowing a leadoff home run in the ninth.
Larkins was brilliant again this week, throwing a complete game (nine innings), four-hit shutout against the Blue Crabs on Thursday. The win was the Ducks’ seventh in a row. They entered the weekend in first place in the Atlantic League Liberty Division second-half race with a little more than five weeks left in the regular season. The winner of the second half earns an automatic playoff berth.
Pacheco on DL
The Ducks put Jordan Pacheco on the disabled list Wednesday with a wrist injury. Pacheco, who played for the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Reds, was hit on the left wrist during the third inning of last Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Bridgeport Bluefish. Pacheco was hitting .273 with three home runs and 22 RBIs in 42 games with the Ducks.
Next Up: Ducks at Southern Maryland, 2:05 p.m. Sunday.