The College of Staten Island men’s baseball program began practice in anticipation of its spring 2015 season this week, and the team could not have gotten off to a better start as the team got a visit from a pair of Major League Baseball stars. Boston Red Sox pitcher Anthony Varvaro and New York Mets prospect Darin Gorski were the distinguished guests, training alongside the Dolphins’ players as they get their arms ready for their respective seasons.
This is not the first time the duo has appeared at CSI. Varvaro, a Staten Island native, and Pennsylvania-native Darin Gorski keep in close contact with CSI skipper Michael Mauro, who gets ready for his seventh season at the helm of the CSI baseball team, and invites the professionals each year for the mutually-beneficial experience.
“It works out great for everyone,” told Mauro. “Our kids get to see the dedication and discipline of these elite Major League athletes, and for Anthony and Darin, it gives them a jump on their own personal spring training, and keeps them connected to the local community who look up to them and want to emulate what they do.”
The CSI pitching staff, naturally, would benefit the most from the visit of the professional pair, but the entire team is often in awe of the regimen of Varvaro and Gorski, who incorporate endurance-based and weight-training into their regimen and gives the CSI players a sense of the lengths the two take to keep their bodies in peak condition.
“Everyone looks up to professional players and to have this experience is very cool,” said first-year sophomore Ryan Kennedy. “It’s new and interesting to see them go about their training and any little thing you can pick up from them helps.”
Kennedy and his teammates took a lot away from the experience. “They are so easy to talk to and to share information. Anthony showed me different grips and how to develop my off-speed stuff. I’m definitely going to use that knowledge this year on the mound.”
CSI is expecting big things in 2015, with a roster that Mauro calls “talented and deep.” The same holds true for the future of Varvaro and Gorski. A 12th-round selection of the Seattle Mariners in 2005, Varvaro spent the last four seasons with the Atlanta Braves before landing with the Red Sox this offseason. He has amassed a 7-8 overall record with a 3.18 ERA as a middle reliever. Gorski, a 7th-round selection of the Mets in 2009, had a sensational minor league run last year, going 2-3 with a 4.56 ERA with AAA Las Vegas, before landing at AA Binghamton where he went 4-2 with a 2.22 ERA.
“We do our best to give our athletes a Division I and professional practice and play experience at CSI,” said Mauro. “Being able to get these guys to spend time with us and show us what they know and do is incredible. They can do more for our guys in a day than what we can do in weeks, and everyone has a great time in the process.”
CSI’s season starts officially in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on March 7, where they will play five games in three days. The home portion of their schedule starts March 15 against Maritime College.