Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pro Sports

June 23, 2014

Tampa Bay trio takes BP with female knuckleballer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Three of the Tampa Bay Rays took batting practice Monday against a female high school knuckleballer.

Evan Longoria, Jose Molina and David Price hit against 17-year-old Chelsea Baker from Durant High School in nearby Plant City. They were preparing for Monday night’s game against Pittsburgh.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon met Baker recently at an awards ceremony and invited her to Tropicana Field. Maddon says the junior who plays on her school’s baseball team was outstanding and has a knuckleball that “moves nicely.”

Baker admitted that she was intimidated at first, but had a “great time” while pitching from about 10 feet in front of the mound and behind a protective screen. She displayed good control, but did hit Longoria in the back with a pitch.

Molina swung and missed a couple of times, and Price hit a hard line drive up the middle.

Baker says the late major league knuckleballer Joe Niekro taught her to throw the fluttering pitch about 10 years ago.

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