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Former Hurricane QB Cut By Nationals

[November 17th] -- The Nationals released on Thursday outfielder Kenny Kelly, who was a mid-season waiver-wire pickup from the Cincinnati Reds. Kelly was another Reds-retread that Bowden had collected since becoming the Nationals general manager. Splitting time between the two teams, Kelly batted .308 in 13 major league at bats in 2005.

Kelly, a former second round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, was for a time both playing minor league baseball and starting for the University of Miami football team. Then head coach Butch Davis cornered Kelly prior to the start of his senior year and told him to choose: football or baseball. Kelly, citing the needs of his young family, left the Hurricanes and made baseball his career choice. He was quite stunned then when the Devil Rays sold him to the Mariners at the end of the 2000 season. It wasn't a matter of talent. With Tampa, it's always about money. The Devil Rays owed him a $1 million dollar payment before the start of the 2001 season, and they simply weren't willing to pay it. The Mariners were happy to and his contract was purchased by the Mariners in 2001. Kelly quickly became the team's top minor league prospect .

The M's were excited at their find. "This kid is going to come quick," manager Lou Piniella said. "With one full year in Triple-A, he could be ready. He's got a lot of the tools." It never happened. He was eventually picked up by the Reds, but it was five years before he had a chance to play at the major league level.

Said Kelly shortly after being sold to the Mariners, "If I'd known they were going to do that, maybe I would have continued to play football," Kelly said. "I thought they were committed to me being part of their future."

It's beginning to look like football might have been the way to go after all.


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