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Scurry works hard for the money

No question about it: major league ballplayers make a lot of money.

The minimum salary of a major league player in 2008 is $390,000, which is more than most teachers will make in a decade.

However, life in the minor leagues is different.

If you’re stuck in the minors, you’re saddled with a minor-league salary, which in most cases isn’t a whole lot of money.

In his first year, a short-season player makes $850 a month, plus a $20 per diem while on the road. The scale gets a little higher as you rise up the ladder -- a Class AA player earns a minimum of $1,500 a month; a Class AAA player’s minimum is $2,150 a month.

Of course, that doesn’t include a player’s signing bonus, which varies greatly depending on the round the player is selected.

A player selected in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft can expect to receive a considerable signing bonus.

For instance, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays gave pitcher Tim Beckham -- the first player selected in the 2008 draft -- a $6.15 million signing bonus. Even a low first-rounder will get a nice chunk of change. The Colorado Rockies’ first-rounder at No. 25, pitcher Christian Friedrich, got $1.35 million.

But there are 50 rounds in the draft, and the bonuses get smaller and smaller as the draft wears on.OK, so I told you all that to tell you this.....

Rod Scurry Jr., is one of those players on the lower end of the minor league scale.

The 6-foot-7 pitcher was drafted in the 31st round out of the University of Nevada, which means he probably didn’t get much of a signing bonus.

So the Dust Devils had just gotten on the bus for the 7 1/2-hour trip back to Tri-Cities after taking four-of-five games in Vancouver, British Columbia.

And Scurry found himself smack in the middle of a money-making opportunity.

“I was in the front of the bus, and (pitcher Drew) Coffey said, ‘I’ll stand up for the entire trip for $200,’ “ Scurry said.

At that, the wheels started turning in Scurry’s head.

“I shouted out, ‘I’ll do it for $100,’ “ he said. “Once they said OK, I was thinking, ‘Uh oh.’ “

So Scurry took his spot in the center of the bus, on his feet, unprepared for the sleepless onslaught toward Tri-Cities.

Making it was only part of the dilemma. Getting there could have been an issue in itself.

“When we went through customs, I was worried that the customs agent would make me sit down,” Scurry said.

He didn’t.

Maybe not such a good thing for Scurry.

“There were two hours left and my feet were hurting so bad,” he said. “I had to keep alternating putting one leg up on the seat and then the other.”

But finally, the bus pulled into the Gesa Stadium parking lot just before the break of dawn, and Scurry, a criminal justice major at Nevada, was free from his self-imposed sentence.

He was also $100 richer.

The middle reliever used the money to fill up his gas tank.

The bad news?

Scurry owns a Dodge Ram 2500 pickup, and a C-note won’t go very far filling up the 35-gallon tank.

Maybe another standing road trip is in the young right-hander’s future?

“Absolutely not,” he said. “My feet hurt for the next three days. And I had to pitch that night.”

A side note: despite a pair of sore feet, Scurry tossed 2/3 scoreless innings against Salem-Keizer that night, allowing two hits while striking out one batter.