GARY | The RailCats hold an open tryout, a college invitation workout, and they've found that technology is the next avenue to find players.
"Emails produce players like nothing else before," manager Greg Tagert said. "I'd say we've received well over 100 emails from players since the end of the college season. I try to respond to as many as I can, but some don't fit and I hate to say it, but some I just don't respond to. They're being sent to us, and the Frontier League and the Can-Am League."
One such player in 2009 was infielder Chris Carrara, who emailed his credentials and earned a spot on the team, playing for four seasons.
Earlier this week, it was Christian Vitters, who signed a contract Saturday then was the designated hitter against St. Paul. In the second inning, he collected his first hit with the team and drove in a run. He added an RBI double in the sixth inning.
Vitters was drafted by the Oakland A's in 2006 and last played professionally in 2009.
He's kept himself in shape for the last four years "doing jobs here and there," including acting. According to a press release, he was in the 2011 film "Black Gold," starring Billy Zane and Tom Sizemore.
"The acting was for fun, baseball is obviously the true love and it's great to have backups, too." Vitters said before Saturday's game. "I've always been pretty big in fitness, so I've always been in pretty good shape. This last year I was hanging out with my college baseball team, mentoring them, so I was able to get them ready for the next level and the college season. As the season went on, my coach wanted me to do more and more and I felt pretty good. When I had the summer off, I thought it was a chance."
After leaving baseball in 2009, he returned to Fresno State and changed his major to economics. He had planned to spend the summer semester abroad studying international economics in Spain, but when that didn't pan out, he sent out emails to independent baseball teams.
The RailCats were the first to respond.
"I always had the desire to come back, but I just didn't have the opportunity because I was always busy," Vitters said. "This summer my summer classes fell through, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to get back into the game ... hopefully the rest is history."
"He brings some athleticism, he can play all the infield positions," Tagert said. "He's similar to a lot of players that we've taken chances on in the past. He's a player who has that pro background, four years with Oakland. He's a very athletic player and we timed him in the 60-yard dash and he ... instantly becomes the fastest guy on the team."
He is the older brother of infielder Josh Vitters, who played in 36 games with the Cubs last season and is on the seven-day DL with the Iowa Cubs.
"I called him and told him 'I think I'm going to attempt and rekindle the baseball career,'" Christian Vitters said. "Being the younger brother, he always did what I did and it was probably kind of a bummer when he saw me stop and he was still playing, that's the first time that's ever happened before."
After hearing his brother was hoping to rekindle his career, Josh Vitters sent Christian a picture of Kenny Powers, the retired baseball player trying to restart his career from the HBO show "Eastbound and Down," reading "I'm back."