Curt Smith is gone, Billy Cather is on the fence and George Tager is on the way.
That’s the latest news about the University of Maine baseball team, which has added a player to the roster since the Major League Baseball draft.
Tager, an outfielder from North Providence, R.I., has signed a National Letter of Intent to play at UMaine starting in the fall, according to coach Steve Trimper.
“He’s going to bring some offense to us,” Trimper said. “He really is a heck of a hitter.”
The lefthanded-hitting Tager, who spent the last two seasons at the Community College of Rhode Island, will help fill the void if Cather opts to forego his senior season in Orono and sign a pro contract.
Cather, who would be a senior in the fall, is still talking with the Nationals after reportedly turning down the team’s initial contract offer. He was drafted in the 33rd round.
“Billy is still on the Cape,” Trimper said of the speedy outfielder, who is playing with Yarmouth-Dennis of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League. “It’s kind of up to him as far as negotiations.”
Meanwhile, Smith has begun his professional career with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The former UMaine star, the 2008 America East Player of the Year, has reported to Jupiter, Fla., for extended spring training in preparation for a stint in the minors.
“Curt signed this weekend,” Trimper said. “He flew down Sunday from Bangor to West Palm. He’ll probably wind up playing short-season [Class] A ball.”
Tager, 5-foot-8, 185-pounder, led the CCRI offense this spring. He batted a team-best .445, which ranked 35th in the country, and also led the Knights with five home runs, 37 RBIs, 10 stolen bases (in 10 attempts) and three triples.
“My strongest attribute is hitting,” Tager said. “[Coach Trimper] told me they needed a hitter.”
Tager is looking forward to taking his game to the next level. He was referred to UMaine by CCRI coach Ken Hopkins.
“I really like the competition and one thing that really attracted me is they play a great schedule,” Tager said. “I’m excited.”
“Ken Hopkins flat-out told us it’s the best single season he’s ever had from a player that he’s coached,” Trimper said.
Tager, who will have two seasons of eligibility at UMaine, plans to major in financial economics with an eye toward becoming an attorney, once his baseball career is over.
He had chosen CCRI because it was inexpensive, convenient and might open doors to playing baseball at a higher level.
“He’s a good student-athlete,” Trimper said. “He’s a tough son of a gun.”
Former UMaine pitcher Brad Hertzler, now with the Oakland Athletics organization, also attended CCRI.