Major League ballplayers pay a visit to Mukilteo

Two Oakland A’s players join local Little Leaguers for sandlot game
By David Pan | Jul 12, 2017
Photo by: David Pan Oakland Athletics shortstop Adam Rosales (right with cap) and center fielder Jaycob Brugman prepare to run with players from Mukilteo Little League during a Sandlot Nation event Saturday, July 8, at Paine Field Community Park. Sandlot Nation is an outreach program run by Rosales in which he meets with and plays a sandlot game with Llttle League players across the country.

Players from Mukilteo Little League had a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with three unexpected visitors last weekend.

Two Major League baseball players – Adam Rosales and Jaycob Brugman of the Oakland Athletics and former Major League player Brent Lillibridge – joined local Little Leaguers for a sandlot game Saturday, July 8, at the Mukilteo Little League Fields in Paine Field Community Park in Everett.

The players’ appearance was through Sandlot Nation, an outreach program run by Rosales. As he travels across the country, Rosales meets with Little League teams for a game and also shares the lessons he learned on his way to becoming a professional baseball player.

The parent of a Mukilteo Little League player was contacted by Rosales and his organization. The parent’s brother is friends with the Oakland Athletics infielder.

Before the game, Rosales, Brugman and Lillibridge talked about the importance of education. All three players went to college after graduating high school.

Lillibridge, who graduated from Jackson High School in Mill Creek in 2002, was attending the University of Washington when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2005. Rosales went to Western Michigan and Brugman attended Brigham Young.

The three told the young players how education gives people more options in life.

Being in school gave Lillibridge more leverage when it came to the negotiations with the Pirates.

Rosales, Brugman and Lillibridge also encouraged the young players to participate in other sports besides baseball and softball.

Brugman played football and basketball in addition to baseball at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona.

The three players also found their versatility to be extremely beneficial to their professional baseball careers.

Rosales is officially listed as a shortstop, but he also has played second base and third base during his 10-year Major League baseball career. Asked what his favorite position was, Rosales said shortstop, which he’s played a lot this season for Oakland

“There’s no room for error,” he said. “It’s always quick. You’re always doing cutoffs and relays.”

The Illinois-native has played in Cincinnati, Texas, San Diego and Oakland. This is his second stint with the A’s.

Brugman, who was called up from the Nashville Sounds on June 9, played in center field in all four games last week against the Seattle Mariners. But he also is familiar with the other two outfielder positions.

“I can play in left or I can play right, so I always have a spot,” Brugman said. “It’s good to be versatile and to be able to play every position.”

Lillibridge is the living embodiment of that statement. During his 6-year professional baseball career Lillibridge played every position except catcher and pitcher.

“I played everywhere in the bigs,” Lillibridge said. “Don’t be afraid to try a new position. You never know what’s going to make the most sense for you.”

Lillibridge was a shortstop for most of his career, but he was asked to do other things when he was called up to the Major Leagues.

“I got to the Major Leagues and then all of a sudden I was all over the place, a utility player,” Lillibridge said.

For as long as he can remember, Lillibridge always wanted to be a baseball player. He remembers playing what he called backyard baseball all summer long.

Rosales urged the young players to do the same.

“That’s why we’re out here, really encouraging you guys and your parents to do ... just to get out here and play unorganized baseball,” Rosales said. “Just to make up your own rules and do whatever you guys want. Just enjoy the game. Win or lose. Whatever. It’s just a great game to be a part of.”

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