Destin Hood might have been a member of two, maybe three BCS national-championship teams at Alabama playing wide receiver for coach Nick Saban. Instead, he was playing baseball and riding buses around New England and the Middle Atlantic states playing for the Vermont Lake Monsters, Hagerstown Suns, Potomac Nationals, Harrisburg Senators and Auburn Doubledays, looking for the road to the big leagues.
Hood found it last year in his ninth season of professional baseball, when he made his MLB debut on Sept. 2 for the Miami Marlins. Hood played in 13 games, hitting .240 in 25 at-bats, with a double and a home run among his six hits in his first taste of the big leagues.
“If I was a football player, I would play football,” Hood told Evan Abramson of the Sun Sentinel. “You couldn’t give me three rings and say, ‘Be happy.’ You couldn’t say, ‘Win a Super Bowl and be happy,’ because I wouldn’t be happy. National championship — wouldn’t be happy. I mean, this is what I wanted to do and this is what came of it and I couldn’t be happier.”
Hood was an All-State wide receiver for St. Paul’s in 2007, a teammate of future Alabama stars Mark Barron and A.J. McCarron on the Mobile school’s AHSAA Class 5A championship team that season. In February 2008, he signed to play football at Alabama.
But Hood also was the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A Baseball Player of the Year in 2008 for the Saints. When the Washington Nationals selected him in the second round of the MLB Draft in 2008, Hood decided to play pro baseball instead of college football. MLB.com reported at the time that Hood signed with the Nationals for $1.1 million spread over five years.
Hood has been in the big-league training camp of the Marlins this spring. In 14 games, the outfielder has hit .250 with two doubles and a home run.
The Marlins seem locked in on their outfielders for this season, with Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna likely to bat consecutively in the heart of the Miami order, with Ichiro Suzuki on the roster as the fourth outfielder.
Miami manager Don Mattingly acknowledged Hood “is probably on the outside looking in,” but also said he was “a guy that’s growing and, you know, he’s a guy that we know is there and is on the way. If we have an injury, then he’s a guy that’d be ready.”
Hood said he’s tried to use his spring work in the big-league camp to improve.
“Before I came here, they had a set team, a set roster,” Hood said. “I think if I go into it trying to win a job, that’s not really my goal. My goal is to be a better ballplayer, and I feel like if I can be a better ballplayer, then it will work out how it should regardless of what takes place.”
Hood was a Pacific Coast League All-Star for New Orleans last season, when he hit .267 with 61 runs, 29 doubles, three triples, 15 home runs, 80 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 126 games for the Triple-A Zephyrs.
Before making his MLB debut last season, Hood played in 887 minor-league games. He hit .268 with 412 runs, 199 doubles, 32 triples, 66 home runs, 475 RBIs and 74 stolen bases.