Tracy McGrady makes Skeeters

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Former NBA star Tracy McGrady has made the opening day roster of the Sugar Land Skeeters as a pitcher.

"It's an honor to be a part of this club," McGrady said in a statement released by the team, which plays in the independent Atlantic League. "To be a part of the team means everything to me and it's a dream come true. I look forward to coming to the ballpark not only to play the game, but to be in the clubhouse building camaraderie with these guys. I am excited to start the journey we're going to take this season."

McGrady signed Wednesday after officially reporting to spring camp last week.

"Tracy is on the team," manager Gary Gaetti told KRIV-TV in Houston on Wednesday. "He's just done what needed to be done since the idea came about.

"He showed enough progress. He showed enough ability and we're going to see where this goes."

Gaetti told KRIV that he didn't make the decision to keep McGrady on the roster until Wednesday. The Skeeters open the regular season Thursday against Lancaster.

"I had to ride it out," Gaetti told the station. "There was no reason to make that decision until I absolutely had to.

"We kind of all knew that there was a pretty good possibility he was going to make the team."

A seven-time NBA All-Star, McGrady has been training to become a pitcher with the team. The 6-foot-8 right-hander played baseball from age 5 until his senior year in high school, when he transferred to a school without a baseball program.

McGrady, who turns 35 next month, was drafted out of high school with the ninth overall pick in 1997 by the Toronto Raptors. He also played for the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, and was on the San Antonio Spurs' postseason roster last season. He won two scoring titles, and retired with more than 18,000 points and more than 5,000 rebounds in his career.

McGrady made his first start last week in an exhibition game against Alvin Community College, throwing 15 pitches (nine for strikes) and allowing three hits and a run in one inning of work.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.