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October 2, 2012

Tuning Up: Antonelli reflects on season, looks to future

Baseball is a game of routine and rhythm.

Summing up Matt Antonelli’s 2012 season comes best through a musical analogy: He never quite picked up the beat.

Antonelli, still regarded as one of the best athletes to ever graduate from St. John’s Prep, played in just 44 games this summer, split between the Triple-A affiliates of Baltimore and the New York Yankees.

Instead of ending the season battling opposing pitchers, he found himself battling illness at his Georgetown home.

It all came down to that rhythm, disrupted first by winter injury that limited his offseason hitting routine. With sporadic playing time at Triple-A Norfolk, Va. in the Orioles’ system, Antonelli couldn’t straighten things out. His body just wasn’t keeping time at the same pace as baseball’s metronome.

“It was a weird year,” the 27-year-old Antonelli said. “There was no flow to it. It was the kind of year you just want to bury and forget about.”

Antonelli grew up in Peabody and was a football, hockey and baseball star at the Prep. He went on to graduate from Wake Forest and was a first round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2006.

After moving on to the Washington Nationals organization for 2011, Antonelli enjoyed an all-star season at Triple-A Syracuse. Last winter, he signed a deal with Baltimore that gave him a spot on the big league team’s 40-man roster. Things were finally coming together leading into his seventh professional season.

But a spot with the Orioles wasn’t meant to be in spring training, and the Birds designated Antonelli for assignment in May. He was claimed by the Yankees a few days later and assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but played his last game for the organization in late July.

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