Pro baseball

Hammond High grad Mike Coles returns to comfort with Winnipeg

2013-06-28T21:45:00Z 2013-06-29T23:08:05Z Hammond High grad Mike Coles returns to comfort with WinnipegHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | Mike Coles' resume in the last four months includes stints in the Greater South Shore Conference, the Atlantic League, the Midwest Collegiate League and finally he returns to the American Association.

Coles was an assistant coach for the Bishop Noll Warriors, but missed a week between the sectional and regional final when he got a call to play for the York Revolution in the Atlantic League.

There, he met Tyler Graham, who was dropped by the Revolution and picked up by the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, then traded to the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

Meanwhile, Coles was released by the Revolution and returned to the region to coach with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. While Coles was an assistant with the Oilmen, Graham signed a contract with a team in the Mexican League, opening a spot in Winnipeg.

"It was funny, me and Graham knowing each other," Coles said.

Coles, who spent 2/3 of the season last year with the RailCats before winning a championship with the Goldeyes, returned to U.S. Steel Yard on Friday for a three-game series in Gary.

"There's a comfort level (with Winnipeg)," Coles said. "I didn't really feel like I had to go somewhere else to prove myself. That took the pressure off, that was the only thing I was probably nervous about was managers who didn't know what I'd done or could care less. Here it's a little different."

Coles said advancing to a veteran classification status this season made finding a team that much harder. In independent baseball, players are classified based on how many professional games they've played.

While rookies are the most coveted, because every team in the American Association is required to have at least four rookies, no team is allowed to have more than five veterans. Most of those veterans -- like the RailCats' Mike Massaro and Cristian Guerrero -- have long histories with their teams.

"Those jobs are hard to keep," Coles said. "I was talking to Amos Ramon (of the Goldeyes), I said it was crazy I didn't have a job, but it was also humbling because you take it for granted. I felt like I had a good enough resume over the years to land a job or at least a chance, but it was just so humbling. I didn't take it for granted, I always appreciated playing, but it makes you think about a lot of things, it was out of my control, it wasn't my play, but it was just a matter of something happening that something opened up. I was just fortunate that it was in Winnipeg."

Goldeyes manager Rick Forney sent Coles a text on June 19, reading: are you in playing shape?

Thanks to running a mile and a half to two miles each day, and taking batting practice with the Oilmen, he was.

"I said, 'you know I stay in shape,'" Coles said. "About 20 minutes later I had a plane ticket for the next morning."

Coles entered Friday's series against the RailCats with a .333 average in six games.

"It was kind of a surprised, I thought I'd be a little more behind than I was," Coles said. "I was doing everything except playing in a game."

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