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Crede credits ex-Bull for defensive prowess

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By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

Published October 24, 2005


CHICAGO - Six years after his brief major-league stint, former USF star Jason Dellaero finally made it to the World Series.

And he didn't even know it.

After White Sox third baseman Joe Crede made a pair of key diving stops in Saturday's opener, he was asked at the postgame news conference what great defensive players he modeled himself after.

And of all the possible answers, from Brooks Robinson down, he said Dellaero, the White Sox's 1997 first-round pick whom he came up with in the minor-league system.

"He was just an unbelievable shortstop. I learned a lot from watching him and talking to him about playing defense," Crede said. "I had the opportunity to play with a couple other pretty good infielders throughout the minor leagues, picking up stuff here and there. But there hasn't been any one specific person other than Dellaero who I've really talked to a whole lot about defense."

Dellaero, who still lives in the Tampa area, said he watched Saturday's game but didn't see Crede's media session and had no idea his name was brought up until getting a call Sunday.

"Really? Wow, that's great," he said. "He made some big plays."

Dellaero and Crede were good friends as they went through the minors, rooming together a couple of seasons, with Dellaero invited to Crede's wedding.

"We pretty much grew up together," Dellaero said.

Dellaero got to the majors first, playing 11 games for the Sox as a 22-year-old at the end of the 1999 season, but he never made it back. Crede made brief appearances in 2000 and 2001 then was called up for good in July 2002 and has been a key part of the Sox's success.

"They gave me a great opportunity and brought me up quick," Dellaero said. "I just kind of ran out of options."

In a way, Dellaero, 28, has been a victim of circumstance. He was a good infielder but also had potential as a pitcher. And at almost every level, there have been coaches split on what he would be better at.

After bouncing around the minors for a few years and getting let go last spring by the Devil Rays, Dellaero ended up spending the 2005 season in the independent Atlantic League, hitting .169 in 78 games for Camden and Newark.

"I don't know what the deal is for next year," he said. "I might go back to the Atlantic League. I might try to get a winter ball job pitching. I'm definitely still interested in playing. I just don't know if I want to try to pitch or stay an infielder."

No matter what happens, at least Dellaero knows he made an impact on the Series.

Just ask Joe Crede.

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