Mark Berman: Former NBA star TracY McGrady is working with Arizona Diamondbacks pro scout Scipio Spinks in an attempt to play professional baseball as a pitcher.
According to Spinks McGrady’s initial goal is to sign with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League for the upcoming season.
Spinks said he has been working with McGrady three times a week for the past three months.
“When Tracy came out I was already to tell him, ‘Tracy I don’t want you to get embarrassed going out here doing that,’” Spinks said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.
“Once he got on the mound and started throwing, I looked at Deacon Jones (special assistant to the Skeeters president), Deacon looked at me, and (I said) there’s something there.”
After Spinks began working with McGrady he became convinced the seven-time NBA All-Star could play professional baseball.
“If the season starts tomorrow Tracy McGrady will be able to pitch on that Skeeters team,” Spinks said.
Spinks and McGrady have been working at Constellation Field, the home park of the Sugar Land Skeeters.
“He’s not throwing as hard as everybody said,” Spinks said. “I don’t know where that came from.
“(McGrady is throwing) between 85 and 86 miles per hour and that’s without adrenalin, that’s without hitters at the plate and the longer he throws, the looser he’ll get and the harder he’ll throw.
“I can see him throwing in the 90s, but he’s nowhere in the 90s now, not even close.”
Spinks said McGrady is easy to coach.
“I showed him how to throw a slider,” Spinks said. “It took him five minutes to learn it. He has good break on it. It’s a true slider.
“Because he’s such a great scorer in basketball, his focus is so good when he throws the baseball. He hits both sides of the plate with no problem.”
Spinks said McGrady has great passion for the game of baseball.
McGrady told Spinks: “‘Baseball has been my love. I’ve always wanted to play this game.’
“His goal is to go out there and pitch and not just to go out there and pitch, but he wants to pitch competitively, and hopefully he might get picked up on a Major League club,” Spinks said.
“I don’t know if he’ll make it to the Big Leagues, but I feel that he’ll play affiliated baseball.”
Spinks said McGrady is very serious about his attempt to play professional baseball.
“Come out there and stand up to the plate while he’s throwing the ball and see if that’s a carnival act,” Spinks said. “This is not a joke.
“This is not a show.”
McGrady played for the Houston Rockets from 2004-2010 and still lives in the Houston area.
He last played in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2011-12 season.
Spinks was a pitcher with the Houston Astros from 1969-1971 and with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972 and 1973.
He was a pro scout for the Astros organization for 17 years.
ESPN first reported about McGrady’s effort to play professional baseball.