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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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June 6, 2008 9:18 AM

Headed to Bellingham

Posted by Bob Condotta

I'll be headed to Bellingham later today to take in the opening game of the season for the Bellingham Bells --- or better known as the summer baseball team employing Jake Locker.

Locker is expected to finish up final exams early this afternoon, then head there in time for warmups and first pitch at 7 p.m. --- hope he doesn't run into me on I-5 (though you guys are probably hoping the other way around).

Locker is scheduled to be thrown right into the fray, playing center field tonight against the Everett Merchants.

Here's a good preview of the Bells from the Bellingham Herald.

As the story notes, the Bells are part of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League.

You may not have heard much about that league until now, but you might begin to hear a lot more about it, even once Locker leaves. The league has a new president, former Mariners announcer Ken Wilson, and has stated goals of being very aggressive in attempting to create something that could rival the Cape Cod League and other more-established summer leagues throughout the country.

I talked to Wilson earlier this week and he says he thinks there is enough talent in the Northwest to do just that if the players have a reason to stay home rather than heading to Cape Cod or Alaska. There are eight official teams in the league this year with plans to expand. The leagues are popular with pro scouts because the players use wood bats, simulating conditions of professional leagues.

Wilson admits that the addition of Locker is a big boost to the league at a time it's trying to get off the ground, attracting the kind of publicity it would have trouble getting otherwise.

Locker is expected to play in most weekend home games for the Bells and maybe make a few of the closer road trips. One Bells official told me this week he thinks Locker could play in as many as 30 of the team's 51 games.

Locker has said only that he will look at the schedule every two weeks and decide which games he can play and which he can't, based around his football schedule at UW.

He has said all along he won't do any baseball stuff that gets in the way of football and that football remains his passion --- baseball is just something fun to do during the summer. Still, there is no doubt he could have a big-time future in baseball if he so wanted.

Baseball scout Eddie Bane told ESPN's Bruce Feldman last year that Locker "is more advanced as a baseball player, believe it or not'' and that "he could be Scott Rolen in baseball, or a closer if he pitched.''

Locker was a 40th round choice of the Angels in 2006 draft after telling teams he intended to play football in college --- speculation is he would have gone in the first two rounds otherwise.

So while Locker maintains his future is in football --- and there is no reason to doubt him --- scouts will be paying attention tonight, and the rest of the summer, just in case.

I'll be there tonight, as well, assuming Locker doesn't run me off the road in his haste to get there --- and that the game is played (the weather report isn't good) --- and will check in with regular reports here on the blog.

UPDATE 11:10 A.M. --- Official word is that despite the weather, the game is still on and that it will probably be a game-time decision as to whether it is played.

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