August 8, 2010
By David Driver
For the MassLive
Used with permission
By DAVID DRIVER
BALTIMORE – Springfield native Nick Gorneault was in the clubhouse of the Arkansas Travelers when he was summoned Aug. 1 by Bobby Magallanes, the manager of the Double-A team in the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system.
“Bobby called me into his office and he told me I was going back to Salt Lake. I was pretty happy,” said Gorneault, a graduate of Cathedral High who played for UMass through 2001.
The outfielder woke up at 3:30 a.m. Monday for a 6 a.m. flight that took him through Houston and on to Portland, Ore.
He played Monday night for Salt Lake and was hitless in three at-bats. He had a few hours of sleep that night before a day game on Tuesday, when he had two hits in four at-bats for Salt Lake.
He was with Salt Lake as the team flew back to Utah to begin a series at home on Wednesday with Oklahoma City. It was a whirlwind few days for Gorneault, who was hitting .422 in 45 at bats with Arkansas before he was called back to Salt Lake.
But that was no problem for Gorneault, who played for Salt Lake from 2004-07 and began this season there as well. He led the PCL in RBIs with 108 and added 26 homers while with Salt Lake in 2005. But he hit less than .200 in 60 games for Salt Lake this season before being sent to Arkansas in July.
“I have played most of my career here, especially the last five or six years, in Triple-A,” he said in a telephone interview. “This is where I deserve to be at. Sometimes with the game, and the (roster) numbers and stuff like that, for whatever reason life takes you to different places. I am thankful for that. Obviously I want to get back to the big leagues. I have been taking it day-to-day since I went to Double-A (in July). I guess it is working.”
He began his pro career in the Angels’ system in 2001 and worked his way up through the system.
The Springfield product made his big league debut in 2007, also against the Orioles in Baltimore, and was hitless in four at-bats over two games before going back to Salt Lake. Last year he played with New Hampshire in the Double-A Eastern League while with Toronto and in 2008 he was with Round Rock, the Double-A farm team of the Houston Astros.
“I feel very fortunate to have gotten to the big leagues,” he added. “Of all the guys that play professional baseball, only five percent get to the big leagues. I feel very pleased to have had that opportunity. Of course I want to get back there. That is the ultimate in our game. I won’t be satisfied until I get back. I am ready to keep working hard. That has been mantra, to give it my all every day.”
Ron Roenicke, the veteran bench coach for the Angels, remembers when Gorneault was called up the Angels in 2007. “He is a hard-nosed player, a very aggressive player,” Roenicke said before the Angels’ game on Wednesday in Baltimore. “He has good speed, good arm and plays right and left. He hit the ball well for us in spring training the year he got called up.”
Gorneault got the call to Salt Lake after Peter Bourjos, an outfielder who had been with the Bees, was called up to the big leagues to play center field for the Angels.
Bourjos, who made his big league debut Tuesday, said he and Gorneault were good friends to start the season in Salt Lake and used to play table tennis in the clubhouse before games. “He is an unbelievable teammate,” Bourjos said before Wednesday’s game in Baltimore against the Orioles. “He is a leader. He is a great player.”
Gorneault hit just .210 for New Hampshire in 2009 and struggled in his first stint with Salt Lake this year. “I was lining out a lot. I knew my role to start the season: I wasn’t going to play every day (with the Bees). It was hard to get a good rhythm and I wasn’t getting a lot of breaks. It has been a long climb. I dug myself a good hole,” he said.
Gorneault hopes to be in Salt Lake the rest of the season – unless the Angels come calling. “I hope that is the case,” he said. “There are no guarantees. That is the thing with this game. It is not an easy business.”