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Gale trades in tool belt for catcher's gear

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There are any number of reasons why Padres catching prospect Rocky Gale was excited to get to Arizona for the start of Spring Training.

For starters, Gale is in his first big league camp with the team. Also, he's escaped the wet and wintry weather of his native Oregon, where he spent most of the offseason outside, working construction in the Portland area.

"This was my first year doing it," Gale said on Thursday. "It was really an eye opener for me. That's such a different world than I'm used to. I've never done anything like that. In my family, if something breaks, then you call a plumber … or my mom would be under the sink trying to fix it."

But because baseball is a seasonal job, Gale, 25, decided to supplement his income with construction work, contacting a friend and a former teammate at the University of Portland, Riley Henricks. Hendricks' father, Jim, owns BDZ Construction, based in Washington.

"I did it for just over three months," said Gale, who was a 24th-round Draft pick in 2010. "I would work on residential apartments and housing, putting in sewage lines, water lines. I would do erosion control, spreading hay over acres and acres. We would also grout manholes.

In four seasons in the Padres' system, Gale has a modest .224/.264/.269 batting line, but he is regarded as a very strong defensive catcher. He hit .246 in 2013 with Double-A San Antonio.

To be sure, he's glad to be back playing baseball this spring. He wouldn't rule out a return to working in construction again, though.

"It was interesting to see how things get put together. It was a lot of hard work. It made me appreciate baseball a little more," Gale said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.
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