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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ex-major leaguer Truby back as CaneFires' coach

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Chris Truby

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HAWAII WINTER BASEBALL

WHEN: BeachBoys vs. Sharks, 7 p.m. Saturday at Les Murakami Stadium; Honu vs. CaneFires vs. Honu, 7 p.m. Saturday at Hans L'Orange Park.

TICKETS: $6 adults; $4 military (active/inactive), students 13-years-old through college; $3 children 4-12; free children under 4.

PROMOTIONS: At Murakami, first 200 fans get Straub drawstring backpacks; at L'Orange, shirts and jackets courtesy of ALSCO distributed between innings and Waipi'o Little League team to be honored.

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It's homecoming for Chris Truby.

The 1992 graduate of Damien Memorial High returns here as hitting coach for the West Oahu CaneFires of Hawaii Winter Baseball. As a player developing his skills to reach the big leagues, Truby played for the CaneFires in 1995 while in the Houston Astros organization.

"I haven't been back in a while," Truby said last night at the league's reception. "It's the first time I'm bringing the family back. It's obviously something where I get a chance to come home. It's almost like a paid vacation. I get to work with the players and be in Hawai'i. It's awesome."

Truby, 35, spent parts of four seasons with the Astros, Montreal Expos, Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 2000 to 2003. Truby's 16-year pro playing career started in 1992, when the Astros signed him as an undrafted free agent after he impressed scouts in the Area Code games the summer after he graduated from Damien. He said he was ticketed to play baseball at Hawai'i Pacific, but couldn't resist the chance of playing pro ball.

Truby's last playing stop was with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 2007. After playing at affiliates at Double-A Altoona (Pa.) and Triple-A Indianapolis, he remained with the Pirates as a coach with their rookie Gulf Coast League club. This past season was his first full season coaching, which happened at the High-A Lynchburg (Va.) Hillcats of the Carolina League.

As a former HWB player, and, of course, growing up here, Truby hoped his organization would choose him.

"I lobbied kind of hard to get this gig," he said. "Luckily, the opportunity's there.

"(I'm) just fortunate, I guess, with all the names thrown out there. To be one of the coaches they pick to come out here, it's obviously an honor. It's an honor for the players. It's an honor for the coaches also."

Considering he reached the big leagues as an undrated free agent he made his big-league debut with the Astros on June 16, 2000, against the San Francisco Giants Truby was pleased with how his career turned out.

"Lucky, just with everything that happened," he said. "Not being drafted, being able to play in the big leagues, I'm just really fortunate, blessed. Things had to fall a certain way and they did. I got lucky and I'm thankful for everything."

Truby also was an all-state receiver in football at Damien under coach Wally Aina.

Since graduating from Damien, Truby said his parents have relocated to Seattle, but he still has relatives here. Coaching the CaneFires, whose designated home is Hans L'Orange Park, is appropriate because he attended St. Joseph in Waipahu from kindergarten through eighth grade before transferring to Damien his freshman year. Truby said he plans to visit Damien to see Aina and his son Punahou, who is a football assistant.

"I'm going to go down there and see those guys and re-acquaint with each other," Truby said.

Truby is here with his wife, Veronica, and twin daughters Maria and Camille.

SHORT HOPS

The league begins play Saturday with the CaneFires meeting the North Shore Honu, 7 p.m. at Hans L'Orange Park. The Honolulu Sharks will play the Waikiki BeachBoys, 7 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.

The Little League Majors World Series champion Waipi'o team will be honored at the CaneFires-Honu game. The team has one thing in common with an HWB player: BeachBoys infielder Todd Frazier played for the 1998 Little League World Series championship team from Toms River, N.J.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.