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Ridgewood's Doorneweerd brings home the groceries

David Doorneweerd spent his last night bagging groceries Wednesday at Publix. "I need to make a few bucks for gas money," said Doorneweerd, who planned to spend the evening cruising with friends on the last day of school.

Today, Doorneweerd said he may go shopping for a new truck. He'll have plenty of cash to fill the tank.

The former Ridgewood High pitcher agreed to a signing bonus of typical second-round money _ thought to be near $100,000 _ Wednesday with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pirates director of scouting Jack Zduriencik visited the Doorneweerd family Wednesday morning and a contract agreement was reached early in the afternoon.

"The amount is confidential, but I am happy with it," Doorneweerd said. "We negotiated a little, we made an agreement and I signed. I made the decision and it's final. I'm not going to look back from here.

"The money sounds big," Doorneweerd added. "But it will have to last four or five years while I try to make it to the majors."

Doorneweerd, a 6-foot-2 right-hander, bypassed a scholarship he signed with the University of Georgia to turn pro. The Times two-time North Suncoast Player of the Year was taken with the 68th pick overall by the Pirates in last week's Major League Baseball amateur draft. His contract stipulates that the Pirates will pay for Doorneweerd's college education.

"That was not negotiable," said Doorneweerd's father, Dennis, who helped negotiate his son's contract. "We're satisfied. This is a dream come true for Dave. We've encouraged and supported him in baseball since he was 3 years old. And I think any parent would love to see their son get a shot at the majors."

And Zduriencik and the Pirates are happy to give Doorneweerd his chance.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we loved what we saw in David," Zduriencik. "He was a kid we felt very good about. He had a great high-school season and he kept getting better as the season went along.

"We made a tremendous investment in Dave and we expect it to pay off in the long term."

Doorneweerd, who was 13-1 with an 0.29 ERA this year for Ridgewood, will report Tuesday to the Pirates' minor-league complex in Bradenton. He will play in the Gulf Coast Rookie League that is based in Bradenton and Sarasota.

Doorneweerd, who will earn $850 per month in the rookie league, will work with Pirates director of minor-league pitching Bruce Kison, who pitched for the team in the majors.

"David will get good attention at Bradenton," Zduriencik said. "Bruce is one of the best pitching coaches in the game and I'm sure David will learn a great deal."

Doorneweerd is eager to report. "I've got a lot to learn," he said. "This will be a lot different from high school. I'll have to adjust to the wooden bats and to the better hitters."

Added Ridgewood coach Larry Beets, "David will be attending the University of Baseball in Bradenton. He can only learn so much at the high-school level and then he has to move on. And think he has made the right choice.

"Mr. Zduriencik said he had a gut feeling about Dave that he would be in the majors some day. I think he is right."

But the Pirates will not rush Doorneweerd, Zduriencik said. "I think it is unfair to say a kid will make it in x-amount of years. Each player has his own way of adjusting to things. Some are taken in the first round and come highly touted and then don't make it. David has to get some experience under his belt and then let things run their course.

"But we would not have drafted Dave, especially in the second round, if we weren't comfortable with him. We're eager to see him in a Pirate uniform."

Doorneweerd said he hopes to reach the majors in four or five years.

"When the director of scouting says good things about me it makes me confident and optimistic," Doorneweerd said. "It's my dream to get the majors and I'm going to work hard to get there."

Doorneweerd will go to work in Bradenton. As soon as he buys a truck.

"I'll be coming home to visit and to do my laundry," Doorneweerd said. "I'll need transportation. The rest goes in the bank."

Expect for a few bucks for gas.