Greg LaRocca

Gregory Mark LaRocca (born November 10, 1972 in Oswego, New York) is a former professional baseball player. He was a second baseman for the Orix Buffaloes in the Nippon Professional Baseball league Pacific League. LaRocca also spent three years in Major League Baseball for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians.

Greg LaRocca
OB-Greg-LaRocca20100704.jpg
A picture of Greg LaRocca
Infielder
Born: (1972-11-10) November 10, 1972 (age 48)
Oswego, New York
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Professional debut
MLB: September 7, 2000, for the San Diego Padres
NPB: 2004, for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp
NPB statistics
(through 2008 season)
Batting average.293
Home runs104
Runs308
Teams

BiographyEdit

LaRocca attended Manchester High School West in Manchester, New Hampshire and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1993, he played collegiate summer baseball with the Orleans Cardinals of the Cape Cod Baseball League.[1] He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 10th round (262nd overall) of the 1994 MLB Draft.[2]

Major League BaseballEdit

Minor Leagues (1994–1999)Edit

LaRocca played for Low-A Spokane Indians and High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.[2] The 1995 season was split between High-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and AA Memphis Chicks.[2] The entire 1996 season was played for AA Memphis Chicks.[2] LaRocca played all of 1997 for AA Mobile BayBears.[2] The 1998 season was played for AAA Las Vegas Stars.[2] LaRocca stayed in AAA Las Vegas for all of 1999 as well.[2]

San Diego Padres (2000)Edit

LaRocca started the 2000 season in AAA Las Vegas. He was a September call-up when MLB rosters expand beyond the traditional 25-man roster.[2] LaRocca made his MLB debut on September 7, 2000. He played 13 games with a total of 27 at-bats. He accumulated 4 singles, 2 doubles, and 1 walk. His batting line for the 2000 season ended with a .222 average, .293 slugging, and .546 On Base + Slugging (OPS).[2] LaRocca played three different infield positions in the 2000 season. 8 games at third base, 4 at shortstop, and 2 at second base with a 0.939 fielding percentage.[2] He was released by the Padres on March 28, 2001.[2]

Cleveland Indians (2001–2003)Edit

On May 7, 2001, LaRocca signed with the Cleveland Indians.[2] LaRocca did not play in the Majors during the 2001 season. He split the year between the AA Akron Aeros and AAA Buffalo Bisons.[2] During the 2002 season, LaRocca split time between AAA Buffalo and the Indians. In Cleveland, he played over 21 games collecting 14 hits over 52 at bats, collecting a triple and 4 doubles. His batting line for the 2002 season ended with a .269 average, .365 slugging, and .732 OPS. La Rocca played third base, second base, and designated hitter (DH).[2] LaRocca started and ended his 2003 season with the Bisons. He spent the last part of September with Cleveland playing in 5 games at third base and DH. He amassed 3 hits over 9 at-bats, including one double.[2]

Nippon Professional BaseballEdit

Hiroshima Carp (2004–2005)Edit

In 2004 he joined the Hiroshima Toyo Carp . At first, the signing did not attract much attention before the opening of the season. It was cheaper signing, with the Carp obtaining a middle of the order hitter that can hit the ball to all fields. When the season began, he maintained a high batting average and hit 26 homers in the first half. In the second half LaRocca did not slow down, reaching the batting average of .328, 40 home runs, 101 RBI, ranking fifth place in all three batting groups. LaRocca's .328 average was second in the league. However, he recorded 66 strikeouts for the season.

In 2005 LaRocca batted 4th from the beginning and kept high batting average, but an injury to his hand caused his season to be cut to only 80 games. However, he managed to hit .303 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI. On November 18, 2005, LaRocca, along with Tom Davey , Kenny Rayborn were designated for assignment, then traded to the Yakult Swallows.

Yakult Swallows (2006)Edit

In 2006, Yakult formed a strong central axis with teammates Alex Ramirez , Adam Riggs and LaRocca. The nickname "F-Brothers" was attached to the three foreign fielders by fans. The 2006 season was a success, but was sidelined in August with a knee injury that required surgery. That season, LaRocca played 103 games, batted .285, 18 home runs.[2] On December 1, LaRocca became a free agent. He then joined the Orix Buffaloes who wanted a reliable middle of the order batter.

Orix Buffaloes (2007–2010)Edit

For the 2007 season, LaRocca was appointed the starting third baseman and number 3 hitter in the order. Through the first few weeks of May, he hit .300 with 17 home runs. LaRocca broke the 55-year old NPB record of hit-by-pitches in a single season with 28. In 2008, LaRocca he complained of right elbow pain, and did not play after May 5. On May 28, the team announced that LaRocca had undergone reconstructive surgery of his right Ulnar Collateral Ligament, also known as Tommy John surgery. This surgery caused his season to come to an end, and the Buffaloes considered releasing LaRocca.

In 2009, LaRocca renegotiated his contract and took a substantial salary reduction and agreed to a contract on January 28. The Buffaloes acquired Jose Fernandez to play third base, so LaRocca played first base. On opening day against the Lotte, three consecutive home runs were recorded for the first time in three years by himself and two other teammates. With Alex Cabrera and Tuffy Rhodes injured, LaRocca filled the hole of Fernández who was also injured. He was bumped to batting 4th, and hit 12 home runs. However, in the game against Softbank on July 28, he was hit by a pitch for the 100th time in his career, thirteenth in NPB history, from Masahiko Morifuku. On that HBP, LaRocca broke his right hand and was out for the remainder of the season. With LaRocca being repeatedly sidelined, the team once again considered releasing him. However, his contract was affordable, so LaRocca returned for the 2010 season.

In 2010, LaRocca was mostly DH, with playing one game at first base. In a game against Rakuten on March 22, LaRocca hit a two-run home run off of Rei Nagai. However, in a game against Rakuten on April 10, he was hit by a pitch and fractured his pinky finger. However, in an effort to preserve his season, LaRocca covered the affected part of the little finger with a metal plate, attached to a shock absorbing pad from the top of the batting glove. To much success, he hit 4 home runs while fractured. However, as Arom Vardilis began to rise, LaRocca mainly played as DH and pinch hitter. He later injured his back and was put on the disabled list on May 25. After the season, LaRocca retired from professional baseball.

RetirementEdit

LaRocca was a scout for the Orix Buffaloes from 2011–2016. He scouted players from the United States to play for the NPB. LaRocca was the manager for the Granite State Games, a high school showcase in New Hampshire.[3] LaRocca is a hitting and fielding instructor in New Hampshire for both private and team consulting.[3]

Style of PlayEdit

LaRocca was a middle of the order hitter that pulled the ball to left field. When he signed with Orix, he formed "big boys batting line" with Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera (including Jose Fernandez in 2009 season). When reporters asked the reasons for the strong showing at Orix, "Tuffy hits behind me, I can swing the bat carefully and I can swing the bat hard" putting trust in Rhodes.

He played second, third, and first base during his career. LaRocca had good command of all positions, earning a .945 career fielding percentage at all levels. He excited fans in Japan with many diving stops and throws on the run.

LaRocca was often injured in Japan due to hit by pitches and while of defense.

Hit By PitchEdit

LaRocca was known in Japan as a player who was often hit by pitches. In 2007, he was hit 28 times, which is a NPB record. In seven seasons up to 2010, he has recorded 109 HBP. During this time, the number of at-bats per HBP was about 21.8 (2375 AB / 109 HBP), more than twice as much as the previous record.

In 2007 he received 20 HBP in the first half of the season. Before the All-Star Game, LaRocca said "I thought that there would be no [hit by pitches] in the All-Star game", but he received a ball from Koharu Uehara in the first bat. Because there was little damage, the pitcher spread both hands to appeal for health. At the moment when he received the 25th HBP of the season from Shibuya Naoyuki on September 17 against Lotte Marines, when he passed the Japanese record set by Yoshiyuki Iwamoto, LaRocca waved hands towards the audience and also bowed. In the same year's salary negotiation, it turned out that LaRocca was hoping for an "unprecedented" incentive at the number of HBP ". Among the increase in annual salary, "treatment expenses" of injuries caused by HBP were included.

Personal lifeEdit

September 28, 2007, the Orix team announced that it would donate 100 million yen to the Research Promotion Foundation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. LaRocca revealed how he offered the donation "I want to repay for Japan" under the influence of his wife. Greg is married to his wife, Amanda. They have two children together. They reside in New Hampshire.

LaRocca has played in the Wounded Warriors Project softball game in 2016 and 2017 on the celebrity team. This game is to raise money to aid veterans who were injured in combat.[3]

StatisticsEdit

Batting Performance by YearEdit

Year Team Games Plate Appearances At-Bats Runs Hits Double Triple HomeRuns Total Bases RBI Stolen Bases Caught Stealing Sacrifice

Hits

Sacrifice

Fly

Walks Intentional Walk Hit By Pitch Strikeouts Ground Into Double Play Batting

average

On Base % Slugging % OPS
2000 SD 13 30 27 1 6 2 0 0 8 2 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 4 1 .222 .250 .296 .546
2002 CLE 21 60 52 12 14 3 1 0 19 4 1 0 0 0 6 0 2 6 1 .269 .367 .365 .732
2003 5 10 9 3 3 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 .333 .400 .444 .844
2004 Hiroshima 122 513 436 89 143 28 2 40 295 101 11 7 0 2 52 3 23 66 12 .328 .425 .677 1.102
2005 80 296 267 40 81 12 1 18 149 56 0 0 0 1 18 0 10 30 8 .303 .368 .558 .926
2006 Yakult 103 436 379 58 108 14 0 18 176 63 2 1 0 3 34 3 20 52 6 .285 .372 .464 .836
2007 Orix 136 576 503 79 144 29 0 27 254 79 2 1 0 6 39 4 28 74 11 .286 .366 .505 .871
2008 26 105 89 12 15 4 0 1 22 9 0 0 0 1 8 0 7 14 3 .169 .286 .247 .533
2009 74 291 261 28 75 16 0 12 127 43 0 0 0 1 17 0 12 36 4 .287 .357 .487 .844
2010 42 158 133 16 34 8 0 7 63 21 0 1 0 1 15 0 9 18 3 .256 .367 .474 .841
MLB : 3 years 39 100 88 16 23 6 1 0 31 6 1 0 2 0 8 0 2 11 2 .261 .337 .352 .689
NPB : 7 years 583 2375 2068 322 600 111 3 123 1086 372 15 10 0 15 183 10 109 290 47 .290 .376 .525 .901

*The bold in each year is the highest in league, the Italics is the highest in NPB

Records and awardsEdit

AwardswardsEdit

  • All Star : 2 times (2004: second baseman, 2007: third baseman)

RecordsEdit

NPB FirstsEdit

  • First appearance: April 2, 2004, vs. Chunichi Dragons
  • First hit: April 2, 2004 vs. Chunichi Dragons
  • First Steal Base: April 9, 2004, Yokohama Bay Stars
  • First home run: April 9, 2004, Yokohama Bay Stars
  • First Hit By Pitch: April 14, 2004, Hanshin Tigers

NPB MilestonesEdit

  • 100 homers: August 28, 2007, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
    • 251th person in history
  • 100 HBP: July 28, 2009 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
    • 13th in history (the fastest in history)

NPB RecordsEdit

  • Season 28 HBP (2007, Japan professional baseball record)
  • 1 inning 2 home runs: May 11, 2006, Seibu Lions (17th in history)
  • All-Star game participation: 2 times (2004, 2007)

Jersey numbersEdit

  • 20 (2000)[2]
  • 62 (2002–2003)[2]
  • 43 (2004–2005)
  • 29 (2006)
  • 30 (2007–2010)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Major League Baseball Players From the Cape Cod League" (PDF). capecodbaseball.org. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Greg LaRocca Minor & Japanese Leagues Statistics & History | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c LaRocca, Greg (7/9/2017). "Greg LaRocca Baseball". Facebook. Check date values in: |date= (help)

External linksEdit