For 2000 Major League Baseball draft pick Anthony Pluta, reuniting with an old teammate and coaching on Vancouver Island are ideas he’s mulled over for a while.
He’s excited to see both come to fruition at Langford’s Island Training Centre.
Born in California, Pluta played pro ball for 13 years and was a third-round pick of the Houston Astros, playing for six MLB affiliates during his Minor League career. He has roots on the Island, having earned a master’s degree at the University of Victoria and playing for the short-lived pro team the Victoria Seals. He was teammates back then with Charlie Strandlund, now general manager of the multisport training facility.
“We talked even when I was playing in 2009 about doing something like this, where he and I team up and then do a lot of baseball stuff in town and try and elevate the offerings,” Pluta said.
Back then there wasn’t much in the way of facilities, but these days the centre allows kids to comfortably play long-toss through the winter – the facility is the biggest indoor fieldhouse in the province.
“We wanted to make a huge impact in the baseball and softball community on the Island, so bringing Pluta on board was a big deal for us,” Strandlund said in a release. “His joining elevates the offering and gives us someone at the facility leading the charge.”
Pluta is currently pitching coach for the Canadian Women’s National Baseball Team and co-technical director of high-performance baseball in B.C. He plans to stay in those positions for 2022, which means his summer will be “crazy,” but he is excited to coach locally.
With Greater Victoria continuing to expand, the number of players is also growing, he said. Pluta hopes kids from the West Shore and beyond come train at the centre – potentially progressing and climbing the baseball and softball ladders.
“You never know what will happen. But we’ve had quite a few (MLB) draft picks from the Island. Every year there is tremendous talent coming out of British Columbia, and we’re going to start seeing even more talent coming out of the Island as baseball becomes more popular.”
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