By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
MIAMI, Okla. —
Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andy Benes is back on the field this summer, only this time as an assistant coach for his son’s team in the Premier Baseball Junior Championship.
Benes, who was chosen by the San Diego Padres with the first pick of the 1988 amateur draft, signed with St. Louis as a free agent twice and pitched for the Cardinals in 1996-97 and again in 2000-02.
His son, Shane, is an infielder for Rawlings St. Louis Prospects Red, who improved to 2-1 in the tournament with an 11-1 victory Thursday against Fort Worth Cats White at Homa Thomas field on the campus of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.
“My oldest (Drew) is 24 and I was still playing when he was 14,” Benes said. “Shane was 6 or 7 my last season. It has been fun to help coach and see him play in high school at Westminster.
“(Cardinals manager Mike) Matheny’s kids went there and Todd Worrell’s kids went there. Actually, in our class, we won the last three state tournaments.”
Joplin is a familiar summer destination for Benes, who counsels players on what the dozens of college and major-league scouts in attendance during the tournament like to see.
“We were in Joplin during my older boy’s junior year and he went to Arkansas State,” Benes said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids who haven’t committed.
“It’s a lot different from when us old guys played,” he said. “The chance to play in front of college and pro scouts really gets the guys energized.”
Benes had a career record of 155-139 in 14 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Padres, Seattle Mariners, Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks. He had 2,000 career strikeouts.
When he’s not helping out with his son’s baseball team, Benes works on off-the-field projects for the Cardinals.
“I do a lot of public relations and community stuff for the Cardinals,” he said. “I do some pre- and post-game commentary for Fox Midwest. I’ve been blessed to do what I want to do.
“They’re a great organization to work for. The Cardinals draw fans from seven or eight states. It looks like they’re going to have another shot at it this year.”