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Seniors Armen Simonian and Mark Nagata try to extend their baseball careers this summer and as pros. Summer carries with it certain things that are regarded as symbols of the season. Perhaps there is no symbol stronger than the American pastime itself, baseball. For years, boys playing baseball has been just as representative of the summer months as trips to the beach, hot weather and no school. For the Penn baseball team, the season may have ended, but the playing has not stopped and will not stop in the off-season. "Many of our players play a lot," Quakers coach Bob Seddon said. "They better be playing. That is the only way to improve." During the summer, several high- profile leagues are held throughout the nation. Many Quakers have played in such leagues, including ones in Cape Cod and Alaska, in the past. This year, however, most Penn players will be playing in other leagues, such as the Atlantic Coast Baseball League. One Penn player who will become more experienced in this league is junior pitcher Sean McDonald. McDonald, who will play for a team in West Deptford, N.J., was the Quakers' number two pitcher behind graduating senior Armen Simonian. Like the New Jersey native McDonald, most Quakers will be playing for teams near their homes. Kevin McCabe and Jeremy McDowell will be teammates on a team in Malvern, Pa. Quakers playing together in a summer league is uncommon because most leagues have a cap of two or three school teammates per summer team. While these Quakers will be toiling away in various summer leagues to improve from a third place finish in the Lou Gehrig Division, some of their former teammates have more elaborate plans. Armen Simonian is one such former Quaker. "Basically, I'm just looking to get a chance to play pro ball next year," Simonian said. Simonian, a 1997 first team All-Ivy selection, has spoken to several major league scouts and hopes to be selected in the June 1 draft. "It's a very complex and confusing thing with baseball. Scouts don't let you know what they think," Simonian, who has spoken with representatives of the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, said. "They give you no feedback, so I'm in no-man's land right now." If Simonian is not selected in the draft, he has expressed interest in playing in an independent league. "Armen is doing everything he can to continue playing baseball," Seddon said. "I have made it clear that the draft is my first priority," Simonian said. "I do not intend to sign with an independent league until after the draft." If Simonian does play in an independent league, he will be hoping to improve his status for the Majors. Likewise, former Penn designated hitter and 1997 Blair Batting Champion Mark Nagata hopes to do the same by playing in Japan next season. Nagata, who is half Japanese and has been contacted by several Japanese scouts, hopes to have a try-out with a team in Japan and play for a year or so in the Far East. In the past, Major League stars, such as Cecil Fielder, Don Newcombe and Pete Incaviglia, have spent time in Japan. Recently, native Japanese players have made their way to America through the Japanese leagues. Pitchers Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Hideki Irabu of the New York Yankees are the most prominent examples. This summer represents various opportunities for several members of the Penn baseball team. Whether they are preparing for the pros or playing in a summer league, they will be playing baseball, because almost nothing defines summer more than baseball.

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