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A mission to the majors

By Trent Toone

Mormon Times

Published: Monday, June 27 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Kristin delivered a daughter, Vayda, last August. As Iorg has climbed the minor league ladder, the couple has sought to be an example and plant gospel seeds with those they meet. During the off season, they accept callings and serve like any other couple. During the season, Iorg attends sacrament meeting before going to the ballpark. Kristin still goes to church and takes notes from the lessons and talks, then shares what she learned with him later on. She admits they aren’t great at holding family home evening, but they make an effort to read the scriptures together each night and individually when he is on the road.

Kristin has planted many seeds with other players’ wives and girlfriends, who admire her relationship with Cale.

“As a family we can say that every day is a teaching opportunity for us because of the baseball lifestyle. There are new people coming in and out of our lives constantly, so we plant many seeds,” Kristin said. “I am very blessed to be in the position I am. I am grateful for that day (at Alabama) when I met Cale. It forever changed my life.”

A major league example

Phil Nevin, the manager of the Toledo Mud Hens, says Iorg is close to making the majors. He is listed on the Tigers’ 40-man roster.

“Defensively, he is a major league shortstop, without a doubt. Offensively, he shows signs,” Nevin said. “At times he makes errors he shouldn’t. … I stay on him a lot … but he is still, to me, on track with his progress to be a major league shortstop one day.”

Detroit manager Jim Leyland made a similar comment last March.

“He quietly has made as good of an impression as anybody in camp,” Leyland told the Detroit News during spring training. “He’s maturing, he’s getting more confident. He’s a good kid, very athletic, and he’s got power and juice in his bat. He staying with the ball better. If that bat comes around, he’ll play for a long time in the big leagues.”

Hitting has been the biggest challenge for the 6-foot-2, 185-pound shortstop since returning from his mission. As of Friday, June 25, Iorg has a .215 batting average in Toledo.

“I am in my fourth full year of being back from my mission, and I am still not the player that I was before I left," Iorg said. "Baseball is such a skill sport and requires work every single day. So many are playing, and you can really get passed by pretty quickly."

But to make the majors would mean more to Cale for another reason.

“I hope I can join the men in the majors who have served missions," he said. "If in any way I can be seen as an example in the church, that would mean more to me than any baseball accomplishment."

Being an example in professional baseball is a challenge and means making a conscious decision to be righteous every day, he said. There is a lot in the locker room he doesn’t want to see or hear, from the language and music to the pornography and bad movies on the team bus.

“I don’t ever want to feel numb to it,” Iorg said. “I have a lot of good friends and teammates, but you got to be who you are and not part of the crowd.”

His efforts to do the right thing have not gone unnoticed by others, he said, and that has led to many one-on-one discussions about the church and his days as a missionary.

“Being a professional athlete is a stressful game, and if you think this is all there is to life, it can swallow you up,” Cale said.

“I hope that young men would choose to serve a mission because it’s the right thing to do, and worry about the other stuff when you get home. I truly believe that everything works out for the better once the decision is made to serve faithfully.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com

Twitter: tbtoone

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