Sky Sox's McCoy is enjoying twice the reward

Colorado Springs' Mike McCoy is having scouts look at him. Photo by

Mike McCoy was up nights during what looked like a career-ending slump last year. But it had nothing to do with baseball.

McCoy, who is enjoying a surprising rebirth with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, spent his time away from the diamond caring for his twin boys, Gavin and Ryder, who were born in 2008 just weeks before spring training.

By June, McCoy had about all he could take.

"I was exhausted," said McCoy, whose wife, Stephanie, and their newborns moved with him to an apartment in Norfolk, Va., where McCoy was playing with the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate. "They were getting up every 2 or 3 hours, and there were two of them, so it's not like I could just say, ‘You take care of it.'"

A minor-league schedule is not conducive to any kind of life outside of the game with its one-day-off-per-month regimen, but it's harder when you're trying to support two additional lives. The McCoys did what they could to get by. Stephanie would drive to close road series. And both of their mothers spent time helping with the unending schedule.

Coincidence or not, McCoy was suffering through the worst stretch of his career.

"I was batting like .188 at the end of May," said McCoy, 28. "I was behind three middle infielders on the roster and coming into my free-agent year, I knew nobody else was going to give me job."

Rock bottom came when the organization "phantom DL'd" him - placed him on the disabled list without a legitimate reason, bluntly saying his roster spot had more value when filled by someone else.

But about the time the twins started sleeping through the night, an injury gave McCoy playing time at shortstop. By July his average was up to .276 and he was traded to Colorado for shortstop Juan Castro.

Given a chance to play when Jayson Nix joined the Olympic team, McCoy again took advantage of the situation, hitting .343 and driving in 27 runs in 39 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs. It was the finest stretch of McCoy's career, which to that point had few highlights. He had a couple of seasons with more walks than strikeouts, a rare feat these days, but for the most part McCoy had settled into a role as a .260 hitter with speed and a little pop who played hard and could field any position.

Guys like McCoy have value, but it wasn't exactly looking like Gavin and Ryder were going to grow up collecting their dad's baseball cards.

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Now, even that seems like a possibility.

Starting this season again without a position, McCoy has played well enough in a utility role that Sky Sox managers - first Tom Runnells, now Stu Cole - have made a habit of penciling his bat in the lineup, then figuring out where his glove will best fit on that day.

During a 31-game stretch McCoy hit .402 (49-for-122) with eight doubles, four triples, 37 runs, 13 stolen bases and 22 RBIs - while playing second base, third base, shortstop and the outfield.

He ranks among Pacific Coast League leaders in batting and runs and more and more looks like a Jamey Carroll-type utility man in the making.

When the Sky Sox were playing in Round Rock in May, assistant general manager Michael Hobson talked to two major-league scouts who had instructions to specifically take a look at McCoy.

"Really?" said McCoy, when hearing of the scouts. "I didn't know that. It's nice to hear."

Still, no matter what he hears, McCoy said he won't allow himself to think too much about a potential call-up - or what he would do if he finally started earning a big-league paycheck after so many years in the minors. The major-league minimum is around $400,000. Minor leaguers typically make a few thousand a month.

"If I'm looking for it, it might not happen," he said. "And then it will just be more disappointing. But hopefully it happens."

If it does, he knows some of that money would go toward a celebration with his wife who bore so much responsibility early on with their two boys.

After all, as he put it, "I could finally afford to hire her a baby sitter."

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