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January 13, 2005:  Newark Bears News spoke with a few of your favorite players and coaches recently to find out what they're up to.

Mike Smith Happy in Texas

RHP Mike Smith, who was with the team for parts of the 2002 and 2004 seasons, is happy spending the offseason in his home state of Texas.  Having played with the Coastal Bend Aviators and Fort Worth Cats of the Central League before rejoining the Bears in August, Mike points to his time with the Cats as particularly rewarding.  "I liked the team and the area," Mike told us, "and the coaching staff really cared about the players." 

Mike had an opportunity to play in Mexico starting after the Thanksgiving holiday, but decided he wanted to rest his body and be at 100% for next season.  Speaking of next season, though Mike is talking with long-time buddy Chris Jones about coming back to Newark, he says that Fort Worth has already picked up his options for next year, and playing for them he can live at home for free during the season rather than have to find housing in New Jersey.  "But I don't rule anything out" at this point, he says.

We asked Mike how he thought Chris Jones would be as a manager.  "I think he'll be an excellent manager," Mike says without hesitation.  "He knows the game well, nobody plays harder than him, and he has a good work ethic.  I think he'll be a good leader."

Clint Smith Excited About Lancaster

RHP Clint Smith, who spent all of the 2004 season with the Bears, is something of a Renaissance man.  "I have 15 credit hours left to graduate, with a major in kinesiology, and a minor in history, at Texas Lutheran University," in Seguin, Texas.  He also says he has 20 hours to go for his English degree.  Completing his education "will take a load off my mind," says Clint, so he plans to graduate this spring.  For that reason, he has declined to play winter ball, explaining that having that degree in hand will let him focus on playing well.

Speaking of playing well, Clint says he felt he had a good year with the Bears and was happy with his numbers (6-9, 3.97), especially since "it's a good AAA-equivalent league."  He says that having Rickey Henderson as his left fielder underscored the high level of play in the Atlantic League.

Apparently others liked what they saw, too.  The Atlantic League expansion team Lancaster Barnstormers chose Clint in the expansion draft a few weeks ago.  "I felt pretty good because I was chosen first in the draft, and there were former major league players involved," says Clint.  He says that in his first year of professional ball, 2001, he was drafted by the expansion Edinburg Roadrunners of the Texas-Louisiana League (now the Central League), who went on to win the championship in their first year.  He hopes that's a harbinger of what will happen with his new team!

Pedro Sierra

Coach Sierra tells us that he will be heading to Taiwan in January to be a pitching coach for the LaNew Bears!  "Once a Bear, always a Bear," Pete says.  Good luck, Coach!


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