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Salt Lake Bees: Tony Campana's childhood challenges led to his baseball career

By Ryan Miller

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, July 20 2014 4:30 p.m. MDT

Updated: Sunday, July 20 2014 5:25 p.m. MDT

Salt Lake Bees runner Luis Martinez is tagged out at home by Las Vegas catcher Juan Centeno in Salt Lake City Sunday, July 20, 2014.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

On July 5, Tony Campana was traded to the Angels organization from Arizona. It has turned into a great fresh start for the center fielder.

Campana has been an effective lead-off man since joining the Bees and was productive again Sunday, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs in Salt Lake's 3-0 win over Las Vegas.

"It's just a fresh start," Camapana said. "You come here and you try to make a quick first impression and you go from there, you come in and play hard everyday and show what I can do."

One thing Campana can do is run and run fast. In his time with the Bees, fans have already seen his blazing speed at work, commonly stretching singles into extra base hits. Campana said that he clocked his 40 time at 4.25 seconds while a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati.

Campana's rise through the baseball ranks didn't come without challenges.

When Campana was 7, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of lymph tissue.

"They found it, and it was pretty much the next day you're under the knife," Campana said. "They cut me open and removed the tumor."

Eight months of chemotherapy followed the surgery.

"I don't really remember how bad it really was," Campana said "It was way worse for my parents I think than it was for me. I was so young that I was just a sick kid that wanted to get better."

For the next 10 years, Campana had to go back to the hospital a few times a year for treatment, but he didn't let it affect his childhood.

"I just got used to it, it was kind of how things were for me," Campana said. "It was never really bad, I just missed a day of school once in awhile. I played football and baseball. I wrestled, ran track, so, yeah, I did a lot of stuff."

When Campana was 17, it was deemed that the speedster no longer had to come in for treatments.

Campana has played in the majors each of the last four season and knows that his success can be motivation to children going through similar things as he did.

"I try to visit hospitals whenever I can. Go see kids and make them smile a little bit," Campana said. "That's all you can do, is just try to get them to smile and have a good day."

Beelines

Bees 3 Las Vegas 0

In short: Bees starting pitcher Caleb Clay pitched a complete game shutout, going nine innings and only allowing three hits to earn his third win on the season. It was the first complete game shutout for a Salt Lake pitcher since July 21, 2012.

Up next: Reno at Salt Lake, Monday, 7:05 p.m.

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