One start. Five innings.
That’s how long Kelvim Escobar’s return to the rotation lasted after he
missed 1 1/3 seasons due to shoulder problems. Since the struggled to
bounce back following an encouraging first start Saturday against the
Tigers, the Angels announced that he would be unavailable for the rest
of this week and would transition to the bullpen next week.
“He felt he didn’t have the stamina to go out there and throw the 90 pitches and recover,” manager Mike Scioscia told The Associated Press. “So he’s going to pitch out of the ‘pen for that reason. He feels great up to a certain pitch count.”
Of course, this is nothing new for Escobar, a former Toronto closer
who will be pitching in relief for the first time since 2005. He has
some of the game’s very best stuff, but he’s never been a dominant
force, mostly because injuries have held him back. He’s thrown 200
innings just once during a career that began in 1997. It seemed as
though he really learned how to pitch upon arriving in Anaheim, but
this marks the third time in six seasons with the Angels that he’s
missed a big chunk of time with an arm problem.
In the end, this might actually work out for the Angels. It’s not
like they could really count on Escobar to stay healthy anyway, and now
there’s nothing at all stopping them from going out and getting the
starter they’ve obviously needed since the offseason. If things break
right, then Escobar could be the setup man that Jose Arredondo was
supposed to be this year. He’s probably not going to be available on
back-to-back days anytime soon and odds are that he’ll be good for at
least one more DL stint, but even when his arm seems to be hanging by a
thread, he’s capable of getting tons of swings and misses.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.