2010-07-29 / Sports

Cool cages

New hitting facility opens in Newbury Park
By Eliav Appelbaum eliav@theacorn.com

HIT MEN—Josh Goldfield, left, Rich Rodriguez and Jeff Brooks opened the MVP Softball and Baseball Academy batting cages in Newbury Park, with Goldfield and Brooks serving as co-owners. Rodriguez, who played 13 seasons in the majors, serves as a pitching coach at Newbury Park High. IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers HIT MEN—Josh Goldfield, left, Rich Rodriguez and Jeff Brooks opened the MVP Softball and Baseball Academy batting cages in Newbury Park, with Goldfield and Brooks serving as co-owners. Rodriguez, who played 13 seasons in the majors, serves as a pitching coach at Newbury Park High. IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers The professionals are ready to teach baseball and softball to Newbury Park and the rest of the Conejo Valley.

MVP Baseball and Softball Academy batting cages are now open for business.

Co-owners Josh Goldfield and Jeff Brooks, former minor league players and longtime instructors, shared their excitement about the new facility at 3653 Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park.

“I always loved playing baseball. For me, it’s what I love to do the most,” said Goldfield, a 1997 Calabasas High graduate.

“I want to help kids in the Conejo Valley go to the next level. We offer opportunities to help anyone from Little Leaguers to pro guys.”

MVP, whose slogan is “Making Valuable Players,” boasts eight cages. Four cages are geared for lessons and private instruction.

There are three machine-pitch baseball cages that simulate throws of 40, 50 and 70 miles per hour.

There is also a slow pitch softball cage, aimed to attract the adult softball players who play games at Pepper Tree Playfield park across the street from the new cages.

Parents can relax in two lounge areas or even sit on plush furniture in a viewing room as they watch their children receive live instruction. A pro shop will sell gloves, bats, batting gloves and helmets. There will also be video arcade games for kids.

“There’s something for everyone,” Goldfield said. “You can bring the whole family and everyone’s happy.”

Rich Rodriguez, who pitched with the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Anaheim Angels among multiple teams during a 13-year major league career, has joined the MVP staff as a senior consultant and pitching instructor.

“Our nucleus here is made of guys who are passionate about the game of baseball, and they’re eager to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm to the community,” said Rodriguez, who’s in his third season as pitching coach for Newbury Park High.

Goldfield, 31, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks and played catcher for five seasons in the minors. An injury after a home plate collision in 2000 derailed his promising career.

The former Coyote, who grew up in Thousand Oaks, caught Cy Young Award-winning pitchers Curt Schilling, Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb during his time behind the plate.

Goldfield, whose father Matt is the head coach for NPHS baseball, will work as a hitting and catching instructor.

“When you work with kids, it’s not even work,” Goldfield said. “Instead of being a bitter exballplayer, I want to give back.”

Brooks, 30, enjoyed a 10-year pro career.

He was drafted at age 17 by the Diamondbacks out of high school in Lancaster, Pa., a community in Pennsylvania’s Amish country that has a passion for football and wrestling.

“I loved playing baseball, and I felt I was pretty good at it,” Brooks said. “I feel I have a good knack for teaching it. I really enjoy teaching just as much as I enjoy playing.”

Brooks lived in Connecticut when Goldfield asked him about joining forces to start a business in August 2009. The friends, who met in 1999 while playing for the Rookie League Missoula (Mont.) Osprey, spent a month and a half building the cages.

Brooks, who played in the infield during his career, will spend time as a hitting and infield instructor.

Brian Fatur, another former Calabasas Coyote who spent time in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system, will work as an outfield and hitting trainer.

After securing permits, MVP is ready for aspiring youngsters to flow through the doors.

“We want to produce better individuals,” Goldfield said, “and hopefully produce some major leaguers.”

For more information, visit www.mvp-academy.com.

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