Monday, April 13, 2009 | 2:10 a.m.
Of all the career milestones a player can reach in Major League Baseball, Jason Lane would probably love nothing more than to simply reach the 500-game mark.
Currently stranded at 497 over six seasons, it's not that the feat would go down in any record books, but it would mean the 32-year-old was finally back in the big leagues.
After bouncing around the minors for the past two seasons, Lane did everything he could to earn a spot on the Toronto Blue Jays' roster this spring. Hitting .358 in 53 at-bats, Lane knocked out a team-high five home runs and 12 RBI. When the opening day roster was released in late March, however, Lane found himself headed to Las Vegas to play for the 51s.
"My goal was to make that team in the spring and I thought I was making a good case for myself," Lane said. "It's frustrating when you do all you can and they just don't have room for you. But that's part of the game, hopefully I left a good impression and if they have a need for what I can do, I'll be on their mind."
Lane spent six seasons with the Houston Astros, enjoying his best year in 2005. The outfielder hit .267 with 26 HR and 78 RBI that season, as the Astros made it all the way to the World Series before being swept by the Chicago White Sox.
But Lane's offensive production slipped the following year and, after hitting .175 over 71 games in 2007, Lane was reassigned to the minor leagues and been stuck there ever since.
"I've just got to keep playing baseball, I feel grateful to still be playing," Lane said. "I've just got to go out there and play the game and those things have a way of working themselves out. Obviously, the goal is to get back in the big leagues and that's what I'm going to try to do."
Although there are four quality outfielders ahead of Lane on Toronto's depth chart, Las Vegas manager Mike Basso said he is confident that Lane will get called up before the end of the season if he continues to perform the way he did this spring.
Until then, having a player who was once listed on a World Series lineup is a great asset for him to have in his clubhouse.
"He doesn't want to be in the minor leagues, he wants to be in the major leagues," Basso said. "He's got a lot of major league experience. That being said, to have him on a ball club like ours is a very big plus for us. He's proven that he's a major league player and I'm sure that he'll get back up there before this year is out. If they have a need up there, one would think he would be the guy to get a call."
While Lane has been more than willing to share his experiences with the younger teammates, he says it's hard for him to feel like the old, wise veteran when he still feels he has so much left to accomplish as a player.
"It's weird, I still look at myself as a player with a lot left to prove in this game," Lane said. "So I don't necessarily look at myself as this seasoned guy. It's fun when guys will come up and ask about certain experiences, but ultimately I'm still trying to get back there and feel like I have alot left as a player."