Rowland won't do any back-flips at Aflac game

All American Game : : Story
Jim Ecker        
Published: Monday, August 03, 2009

Shane Rowland has received some interesting advice from his father about trying to impress scouts. It's good advice because his father, Donnie Rowland, is currently the national and international crosschecker for the New York Yankees and a former scouting director for the Los Angeles Angels.

"He just tells me to go out there and not even worry about them," said Shane.

In other words, just play your normal game and don't try too hard. The advice seems to be working, because Shane is a highly regarded catcher from Tampa, Fla., who has been selected to play in the Aflac All-American High School Classic in San Diego on Aug. 16.

Shane knows the scouts have been watching. "You have to do what makes them happy," he said, but trying too hard is not the answer.

Relax, play hard, have fun, let nature take its course. That's the best recipe for success.

Donnie Rowland played Triple-A baseball for the Detroit Tigers. He was the Angels' scouting director from 2000 to 2003, and his current job with the Yankees has taken him to China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, according to Shane.

Shane will do some international travel himself in late December when he plays in a Goodwill Games event in Australia. Next on the agenda, however, is that trip to PETCO Park in San Diego for the Aflac game.

"It's a great honor," he said. "Great players come through there every year. I wanted it to happen."

Shane has taken an unusual path to becoming an outstanding baseball player. He was a top gymnast when he was younger and also played ice hockey for a few years, in addition to basketball and football. "I still do a little tumbling to get my body in shape during the offseason," he said.

Shane remembers having a conversation with his father about trying different sports that would help him control his body. They talked about marshal arts or gymnastics, and Shane picked gymnastics. "In marshal arts you go punch things, and I'm not into that," he said.

He got heavily into gymnastics when the family lived in Florida. He did the pommel horse, high bar, rings, floor exercise, vault and uneven bars.

"Everything you see in the Olympics, I did it," he said. "It was pretty cool. I can still do some of the tricks that everybody does."

Shane said he gave up gymnastics when the family moved to California. He took up ice hockey instead. "I ended up leading my team in scoring," he said.

Shane stopped playing other sports when he was 13 or 14 to concentrate on baseball, but thinks gymnastics and ice hockey helped him develop as an athlete. "It's really paid off, without a doubt," he said.

Shane can still do back-flips and knows that Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith used to do them on the field before games, but he's not about to try that. "I used to play shortstop and my dad always kidded me about that," he said. "I said, 'No, I'll probably break something before the game starts.'"
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