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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 14, 2008

Texeira's career taking shape

By Kyle Galdeira
Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Catcher Matt Inouye, left, and pitcher Kanekoa Texeira are prospects in the Chicago White Sox organization. Spring ball starts today.

KYLE GALDEIRA | Special to The Honolulu Advertiser

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TUCSON, Ariz. Last year, 2004 Kamehameha Schools graduate Kanekoa Texeira reported to the Chicago White Sox spring training camp nearly 20 pounds overweight, drawing the ire of team officials who sent him a message.

Texeira, who was asked to report around 200 pounds, was assigned to what teammates affectionately referred to as "fat camp," basically a series of conditioning drills and running before and after the squad's regular practice.

Not only did the extra work require three times the energy as a normal practice, but it took away opportunities for the 6-foot, 2-inch right-handed pitcher to work on tweaking his pitching mechanics and delivery.

"Staying in shape ... last year I had a problem with that," Texeira said. "But this year I came (to camp) in better shape. They wanted me at 205, and right now I'm at 207, so they're pretty happy with that, and we'll see where I can go from there. It gave me a jump start, compared to last year, and hopefully I can maintain that weight."

Despite the slow start last year, the native of Kula, Maui, spent the regular season with the White Sox Class-A affiliate, the Kannapolis (N.C.) Intimidators.

In 39 games, Texeira was 5-2 in 52 2/3 innings and struck out 58. He had a 3.69 earned-run average and 16 saves tied for the best mark within Chicago's minor league system. The former Saddleback Community College product was selected in the 2006 draft by Chicago in the 22nd round.

Texeira, 22, hopes to "start out in Winston-Salem (N.C.)," Chicago's High-A affiliate, "but hopefully I do good enough to stay where I am now, in (practicing with the) Double-A (squad). But, you never know what will happen; we'll see how it goes."

With spring training games scheduled to begin today, Texeira plans to work on another pitch to complement a slider and low-90 mph fastball.

Chicago's director of player development Alan Regier has been impressed with Texeira's physical conditioning to this point, and noted that his slider is very tough for right-handed batters to deal with.

"Now they want me to work on my changeup a little bit more, so I've got a lot of work to do with that," Texeira said. "It's not too fun to repeat (at) where you left off, so hopefully I progress every year to a different level."

While working out alone on Maui in the off-season, Texeira was invited to play in Hawaii Winter Baseball midway through the season. The Sharks pitching staff was in need of an arm because of a series of injuries.

"It means a lot. I never thought I'd be able to play back home in Hawai'i again," Texeira said. "It's a big thrill."

Texeira spent his time in HWB working on his changeup, and opposing hitters took advantage. In 8 2/3 innings, Texeira allowed eight runs on 12 hits while striking out four. Texeira still found the opportunity productive..

"I'm glad I played in winter ball because I think if I didn't play, I wouldn't be in the shape I am in now both arm-wise and weight-wise," Texeira said. "I'm pretty happy, and would like to do it again."

Texeira wants to start his 2008 campaign in Double-A, a fitting reward for all his hard work, but he is constantly reminded that the opportunity to play pro ball is rare.

"Being from Hawai'i, it's kind of hard, there's not too many of us out here," Texeira said. "Me and Matty (Inouye, another White Sox prospect), they call us the 'Hawaiian Punch' once in a while. It's hard, but it's a fun job; not too many people got it. I want to take what I learn here back to Hawai'i, and teach all the little kids."