April 7, 2009
Five former Tennessee baseball players were listed on MLB Opening Day rosters as play got underway on Monday across the American and National Leagues. First baseman Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies, pitcher R.A. Dickey of the Minnesota Twins, infielder Augie Ojeda of the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitcher Mike Lincoln of the Cincinnati Reds and outfielder Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres represent the Vol contingent in the big leagues.
Helton begins his 13th season with Colorado. The five-time All-Star is a career .328 hitter with 310 home runs and 1116 RBI. He played at UT from 1993-95, leading the Vols to the 1995 College World Series while being named the National Player of the Year. He was drafted as the No. 8 overall selection by the Rockies in 1995 and made his major league debut August 2, 1997.
Dickey begins 2009 with Minnesota, his third major league team in seven years. He played with Seattle last season while beginning his career with the Texas Rangers in 2001. The knuckleballer owns a 21-27 career record with a 5.57 ERA in 378 1/3 innings with 229 strikeouts. Dickey played at Tennessee from 1994-96, earning national freshman of the year honors. He helped lead the Vols to the 1995 College World series and played on the Bronze Medal winning Olympic baseball team in 1996. He was drafted by Texas as the 18th overall pick that same year.
Ojeda, Dickey's Olympic teammate in 1996, is in his third season with Arizona after playing with the Chicago Cubs from 2000-03 and Minnesota in 2004. He holds a .235 career average with six home runs and 60 RBI in 340 games. Ojeda played at Tennessee in 1996, earning All-Southeastern Conference honors. He was drafted in the 13th round by the Baltimore Orioles that same year.
Lincoln, a teammate of Dickey and Ojeda in 1996, enters his eighth big league season and second with Cincinnati. He was drafted in the 13th round of the 1996 draft by the Minnesota Twins, the club he made his major league debut with in 1999. He spent two years with the Twins before playing in Pittsburgh from 2001-03 and St. Louis in 2004. As a middle relief pitcher, Lincoln owns a 15-29 career record with a 5.02 ERA and 215 strikeouts in 333 2/3 innings.
Headley made the opening day roster for the first time with San Diego this season, his third season in the majors. He played at Tennessee from 2004-05, helping lead the Vols to the College World Series his last year. The Padres drafted him in the second round in 2005 and he made his debut on June 15, 2007. A third baseman by trade, Headley has found time in the lineup by playing left field. In a little over one season, he is batting .266 with nine home runs and 38 RBI.
Luke Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 by the Kansas City Royals, opens the season in Triple-A Omaha.
The minor league seasons begins later this week for most leagues with the exception of some of the low-A teams, which will not begin until this summer.