By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
As well known as Seth McClung is in the area, Tim Epling would like to see his visibility increase.
“When you hear Seth McClung, you know the name,” said Epling, manager of the West Virginia Miners and owner of Upper Deck Training Center. “I kind of said it jokingly, ‘We need to know more about you, Seth.’ He should be an icon around here, to a certain degree.”
With six seasons of Major League Baseball experience, McClung certainly has not flown under the radar. But his position as girls basketball coach at Osceola High School in Kissimmee, Fla., leaves him little time to visit home.
But one of those rare times will come later this month when McClung teams up with Epling and Upper Deck for two days of baseball camps.
The classes will be held Nov. 24-25 at Upper Deck. There will be three sessions on the first day — 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for players ages 10 to 12; 2-5 p.m. for players ages 13-18; and 6-8 p.m. for coaches.
The coaches clinic will continue the second day from 2-4 p.m.
Costs of the classes are $35 for each player and $30 for coaches.
“I have been gone so long,” said McClung, a 1999 Greenbrier East graduate. “I look forward to connecting with the kids and the community and try to grow the game of baseball in the area.
“I hope to show kids of southern West Virginia that with hard work and some God-given ability, you can play baseball at the next level and maybe even the major leagues.”
Epling said the idea for the camp was hatched when he and McClung spoke recently about the similarities between McClung’s current workout and the routines taught at Upper Deck.
“We started talking, and he had been doing a long-toss (routine) for about four days, and he mentioned Alan Jaeger (a famed baseball trainer),” Epling said. “I told him I know Alan and asked him how he likes it. He said, ‘I like it. I’m kind of getting used to it.’ I said, ‘Well, Seth, we’ve been doing that for over 10 years now.’”
McClung was drafted in the fifth round of the ’99 first-year players draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He made his big league debut in 2003, but later that year had to have Tommy John surgery to repair torn ligaments in his pitching elbow.
He worked his way back to the majors and was eventually traded to the Milwaukee Brewers organization. The Brewers won the National League wild-card in 2008 and lost in the division series to eventual World Series champion Philadelphia.
McClung pitched two scoreless innings in Game 2 of the series.
He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009 but has had stints with the Texas, Milwaukee and Chicago Cubs minor league systems since then.
He now passes that knowledge on to students at his Florida clinic, Big Red Baseball, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to do so in West Virginia.
“After high school, the Beckley area has been very supportive of my career,” McClung said. “It will be nice to give a little back.
“Tim Epling has been great for the state and baseball in so many capacities. I reached out to him to see what we could do. He said ‘let’s get it done’ and made it happen.”
“He’s got a wealth of knowledge on how to compete against the best hitters in baseball,” Epling said. “Plus, he’s got a good perspective on the health and durability of pitchers. We’re always battling that. Not just from a workout standpoint but (also) from a coaching standpoint. How to manage a pitcher. How to understand when to use him and when not to use him. That’s the dilemma we’re facing right now. A lot of it is, our coaches are very uneducated on how to manage a pitcher.
“I’m very excited about the coaching aspect of (the clinic), because these are the guys that are with the players more.”
Each session will be limited to 25 players. To register or for more information, call Upper Deck at 304-673-2160, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
— E-mail: email@example.com