Stephen Vogt? Yes, this guy can hit a bit

Talk about your welcomed change of scenery. Stephen Vogt certainly has found himself in a better spot, with the former Central Valley Christian High standout slugging along for Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento.

The 28-year Vogt was traded to the Athletics on April 5 by the Tampa Bay Rays, who selected him in the 12th round of the 2007 amateur draft out of Azusa Pacific.

Former Central Valley Christian High baseball standout Stephen Vogt follows through on a swing in this 2005 handout photo from Azusa Pacific. Vogt was drafted in 2007 by Tampa Bay.

All he’s done for Sacramento is go 11 for his first 21, with two homers and six RBIs. No, he won’t finish at .545 but he has hit pretty much everywhere during his seven seasons in the minors.

His bio on includes his Florida State League batting title (.345 for Charlotte in 2010), and he hit .272 with nine homers in 349 at-bats a year ago for Triple-A Durham.

Vogt is a .301 hitter in 1,915 career minor league at-bats.

All of which makes his 0 for 25 in the majors last year with Tampa Bay that much harder to understand.

Sacramento visits Fresno for the first time beginning April 29, a Monday game that opens a four-game series with the Grizzlies at Chukchansi Park.

Ex-boxing champ Magaña gives back to Valley youths

Former World Boxing Organization Inter-Continental super bantamweight champion Jesse Magaña will give a motivational speech to youths at Kings County Boxing at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“If you want to change a life, you need to talk to them in person. Any time we can talk to kids, we have a chance to guide them in the right direction,” Magaña said in a news release from Armona-based KC Boxing.

Jesse Magana, shown in this December 2004 file photo, is a former WBO champ who grew up in Fresno and later fought as a pro out of Hanford.

Magaña was born in Mexico but went to Clovis, Fresno and Roosevelt highs before getting his high school certificate at Hanford Adult School.

“I wasn’t the best kid, but boxing put me on the right track. Boxing isn’t all about fighting, it’s about dedication and applying yourself. It helped turn my life around,” Magaña said.

The event is open to the public.

Kings County Boxing is at 11440 Oak Ave. in Armona.


Remembering Jim Sweeney

The death of Fresno State coaching legend Jim Sweeney has brought a legendary outpouring of emotion, but the biggest public display of remembrance is still to come.

Details have not been released, but the university said a memorial service will take place in Bulldog Stadium. That could happen next Saturday, according to early reports. **UPDATE: As noted in our latest blog entry, the tribute is set for next Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.

Remembrances also were planned at today’s Fresno State home softball and women’s basketball games.

Word of Sweeney’s passing at the age of 83 spread quickly Friday night, first through social-media forums and platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

The internet boom was still a ways off during the coach’s heyday in a career that spanned first from 1976-77 and then 1980 until his retirement in 1996. But sites such as Twitter provided the perfect online gathering place for mourners, many of whom hailed Sweeney as much for his off-the-field mentoring as his successes on it.

Ex-Fresno State and NFL star fullback Lorenzo Neal echoed the thoughts of many: “Jim Sweeney was so much more than a coach to me, he was a man that I loved, respected and taught me how to win on and off the football field.”

Sweeney’s rah-rah coaching style offered entertainment and excitement for Valley media during his career, including our own Andy Boogaard.

“Journalism 101 says don’t grow too fond of those of whom you report. Really?,” Andy tweeted at the end of a long day and night in which he wrote much of The Bee’s package of stories on Sweeney’s passing “I’m hurting. And I don’t apologize.”

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Harris Farms horses dot Sunshine Millions fields at Santa Anita

Harris Farms-bred and owned John Scott headlines an eight-horse field in Saturday’s $100,000 Crystal Water at Santa Anita, part of a stakes-filled card on Sunshine Millions Day at the track in Arcadia.

John Scott is the 2-1 favorite for jockey Martin Garcia and trainer Carla Gaines as the horse tries turf for the first time in the 1 1/8-mile-mile race. John Scott, third in the Grade II San Pascual Stakes on Jan. 5, has five victories in 11 lifetime starts and earnings of $400,304.

In this image provided to the Associated Press by Benoit Photo, Harris Farms’ John Scott and Victor Espinoza, right, hold off Kettle Corn and jockey Garrett Gomez on their way to victory in the $85,000 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes horse race, Sept. 1, 2012, at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar.

Also in the Crystal Water field is Huntsville, by Harris Farms sire Unusual Heat, and Harris-raised Big Bane Theory.

A number of other horses entered Saturday were raised at Coalinga-based Harris Farms or sired by horses bred there, including Unusual Way in the $300,000 California Breeders Champion stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Unusual Way is the daughter of Unusual Heat, who also sired Surfcup ($300,000 Cal Breeders for colts) and Best Present Ever ($100,000 Valentine Dancer).

The 4-5 morning-line favorite in the Valentine Dancer is Tiz Flirtatious, sired by Harris’ Tizbud. The big long shot in the race is Harris-bred Toomanytomatoes.