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Nic Ungs local paper feature

Here's another story from my paper - the Dubuque, Iowa, Telegraph Herald, on Brewers AAA pitcher Nic Ungs, who is from Dyersville, Iowa, which is in our coverage area. This story ran last Sunday.

It also contained more on the second local subject, but I cut that out from the end of the story, as it's of no interest here.


(FTR, Ungs fared well in his first outing. From an update we put in the paper this week: "Ungs pitched five shutout innings and earned the decision in the Sounds' 4-0 victory at New Orleans. The right-hander from Dyersville, Iowa, scattered three hits and struck out four in helping Nashville pick up its first win of the season in four Triple-A Pacific Coast League outings.")






TH sports editor

Nic Ungs and Craig Molldrem can no longer dream of stepping on a Major League Baseball pitcher's mound for the Florida Marlins.

Ungs feels better than ever about his chances of reaching "The Show" after signing a free agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He began the season Thursday at Triple-A Nashville, where he earned a spot in the starting rotation.

Molldrem, on the other hand, will have to start over after the Marlins unexpectedly released him last weekend. He will likely play independent baseball with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association, unless another affiliated franchise acquires his rights.

"I don't know if it was a change of scenery or what, but this was one of the best spring trainings I've ever had," said Ungs, a right-handed pitcher from Dyersville, Iowa, who spent the first seven years of his pro career climbing the Marlins' organizational ladder. "I know I went there in a lot better shape than I have the last couple of years, and I was a lot more prepared for it.

"It just seemed like everything clicked for me this spring."

For the first time in three years, Ungs enjoyed a full off-season to rest and begin a conditioning program. The Marlins assigned him to the Arizona Fall League following the 2005 season, and last offseason he helped USA Baseball qualify for the Beijing Olympics before playing winter ball briefly in Puerto Rico.

Ungs also experienced a decrease in his workload last summer at Triple-A Albuquerque, where the organization bounced him between the bullpen and rotation. The inactivity led to a weight gain of nearly 20 pounds to 238.

A smarter diet and a consistent workout program enabled the 6-foot-2 pitcher to enter spring training camp at 214 pounds. He dropped his body fat content from 13 to 9 percent.

Ungs pitched 17 innings in the Cactus League this spring, all in the Triple-A level.

"With the Marlins, even though I was moving up, it still felt like doors were being closed on me," said Ungs, a 12th round draft pick in 2001. "I wasn't an investment any more. Right away with Milwaukee, I felt like I'd been their investment all along.

"I feel very confident that, if anything happens at the big league level, doors will open for me in this organization. It's just a matter of taking care of my own business, performing like I know I can, and doors will open for me."

Ungs reported to the Brewers' big league camp for one game this spring but did not pitch. He instead spent the day in the bullpen, getting to know the big-league pitchers.

"I've never been one of those guys who gets star struck, except last year when I met Nolan Ryan," Ungs said. "But, it meant a lot to me to sit and chat with guys like Eric Gagne and Derrick Turnbow in the bullpen. When you sit down and B.S. with them, you realize they're basically the same person you are.

"I've played with and against guys like Corey Hart and Joe Dillon, too. So, if I do get the call to the big leagues, it's not going to be a huge shock to me to walk into the clubhouse and have to introduce myself to a bunch of guys I've never met before."

Ungs owns a career record of 54-45 with a 3.65 ERA, 614 strikeouts and 204 walks in 907?2?"3 innings of work. Of his 173 appearances, 150 have come in a starting role.

Ungs went 5-5 with a 4.98 ERA last season, his second at Albuquerque. Pitching in the high altitude of New Mexico, he fashioned a 3-3 record and 7.84 ERA at home.

In moving to Nashville, Ungs will now pitch in one of his favorite Pacific Coast League cities.

"I've always loved pitching there, and I couldn't have asked for more from the Brewers organization," Ungs said. "I'm pumped. They've kept up their end of the bargain, as far as keeping their word on everything we talked about during our contract negotiations.

"Now, it's up to me to do my part."

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