Golfer threw batting practice Friday

Updated: August 30, 2003, 9:43 AM ET
Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Phil Mickelson made his pitch Friday to go from golf to minor league baseball.

"
I know which sport is mine, but I just could not pass on this opportunity.
"
-- Phil Mickelson

Mickelson threw batting practice to 18 members of the Toledo Mud Hens, most of them pitchers. He hopes to earn a chance to pitch in a real game for the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.

Mickelson, a 21-time winner on the PGA Tour, and Toledo manager Larry Parrish said Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski would decide whether to add the golfer to the roster.

"I know I don't have the talent the players here do, but this is a lifetime dream," Mickelson said.

"This comes without any ambition on my part, and I'm hoping Dave Dombrowski is open to the idea. If not, I understand. I would never want to do anything to discredit the game," Mickelson said.

Dombrowski was in Detroit for the Tigers' game against the Chicago White Sox. He said no decision had been made yet.

"There's nothing we're going to decide tonight," Dombrowski said. "We're getting extra information tonight. Probably tomorrow."

Mickelson golfs left-handed but throws right-handed. He often plays catch to loosen his rotator cuff, and has worked with former Texas Rangers pitching coach Tom House.

None of the Toledo batters homered off Mickelson in a workout that had its serious and lighthearted moments.

Mickelson had duck to avoid getting hit by Steve Avery's line drive up the middle. Mud Hens catcher Yohanny Valera stepped into the batting cage with a sand wedge instead of a bat.

Michael Miller, the president of the Mud Hens' board of directors, arranged the workout through Mickelson's swing coach, Rick Smith.

Mickelson's workout at Fifth Third Field was closed to the public but drew many fans watching beyond the outfield gates, as well as the Louisville Bats in the visiting dugout.

Mickelson threw to six players from the Akron Aeros, a Double-A team, last weekend during the NEC Invitational. He offered $300 to anyone who could hit a homer off him, and the best anyone could do was a fly to the warning track.

Told Thursday that Mickelson was going to try out with the Mud Hens, Tiger Woods smiled and said, "Good luck."

Paul Azinger was among the players who watched Mickelson pitch last week in Akron.

"He'll probably be effective, because those guys haven't seen a 68-mph fastball since Little League," Azinger said from the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston.

Despite a chance to pitch in the minors, Mickelson isn't about to quit his day job.

"I know which sport is mine, but I just could not pass on this opportunity," he said Thursday.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press