Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Luke Nethaway of the Amsterdam Mohawks bunts during batting practice Wednesday at Shuttleworth Park. Watching in the background are Jake Salpietro, left, and Kevin Guthrie.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks catcher Blake Logan, left, places a ball on a tee for Luke Nethaway (28) during Wednesday's practice at Shuttleworth Park.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam Mohawks catcher Luke Nethaway catches a bullpen session Wednesday at Shuttleworth Park.
By ADAM SHINDER
Luke Nethaway's addition to the Amsterdam Mohawks was a marriage of opportunity and convenience.
The Mohawks were in need of position players to shore up their roster in advance of tonight's 6:35 p.m. season opener against the Newark Pilots, and Nethaway -- a former standout at Fonda-Fultonville High School -- was looking for a place to play his summer ball and stay close to home following his junior season with the College of Saint Rose.
It was an easy match, and Wednesday morning Nethaway pulled on a Mohawks T-shirt and took the field with his new teammates at Shuttleworth Park in advance of getting the start at first base tonight.
"It's nice to know I'm gonna play every day and get back into a routine," Nethaway said. "Being home definitely helps as well."
The advantages of getting to stay home in Fonda while playing his home games barely 10 minutes away in Amsterdam were pretty simple for Nethaway -- who hit .254 in 31 games with St. Rose this spring -- to outline.
"I get to play in front of family and friends -- and now I don't have to pay for food," he said. "It's definitely a plus for me."
Nethaway's no stranger to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, either, as this summer will mark his third season in the league with his third different team. He played for the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs in 2012 after his freshman season at Herkimer County Community College, then after transferring to St. Rose, he spent last summer playing on his collegiate home field at the Plumeri Sports Complex with the Albany Dutchmen.
But, he said, he always relished the opportunity to come play at Shuttleworth, where there was always a loyal pocket of hometown fans on hand to cheer him on. This year, though, the whole crowd will be behind them -- like they were for his older brother Josh, who was a fan favorite while playing for the Mohawks in 2011 and 2012.
"It's always been fun being the rival, but now I'm here and this is my team," he said. "It'll be a cool atmosphere. I'm looking forward to it."
He's also looking forward to working hands-on with Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin, whom Nethaway has earned a great respect for both through his older brother's experiences and what he's seen from the opposite dugout the past two summers.
"Talking to my brother, who played for (Griffin), and playing against him, I saw how good a coach he is," Nethaway said. "I'm looking forward to learn what he has to teach me."
NOTES: The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft opens today, with several former Mohawks eligible to be picked. Among them are a trio of local products -- Broadalbin-Perth's Matt Gage of Siena College and the University at Albany duo of Fonda-Fultonville's Josh Nethaway and Mayfield's D.J. Hoagboon. ... E.J. Ashworth will get the start on the mound tonight, though will be limited to a maximum of five innings -- as are all Mohawks pitchers in their first start under Griffin. ... Nethaway's addition gave the Mohawks seven position players as of Wednesday. If the roster holds for tonight, that means pitchers will have to play in center field and occupy the designated hitter spot.
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