Ryne Duren, a three-time All-Star reliever in the 1950s and 1960s known for his blazing fastball, coke-bottle glasses, and effective wildness, has passed away at age 81.
Duren didn’t get his first extended opportunity in the majors until he was 28, but he pitched nine seasons for seven different teams and was a dominant force in the Yankees’ bullpen in 1958 and 1959, combining to post a 1.95 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 152 innings while leading the league in saves.
Duren also walked 86 batters in 152 innings during that span, and control problems plagued the 6-foot-2 right-hander for his entire career. Not always knowing where the ball was going combined with thick glasses and a high-90s fastball made Duren awfully tough to hit, and he famously played up the wildness even further by often intentionally firing his first warmup pitch over the catcher’s head.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins say minor league pitcher Yorman Landa has died in Venezuela. He was 22.
The club said in a statement that the Twins are “deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss.” The team did not say how he died.
Landa pitched in the 2016 season with the Fort Meyers Miracle, going 2-2 with 7 saves and a 3.24 ERA in 41 2/3 innings pitched. His career minor-league ERA was 2.66.
Landa had been on the Twins’ 40-man roster, but was dropped after the season. The organization signed him to a minor-league contract last week.
Landa was signed by the Twins in 2010 as a 16-year old from Santa Teresa, Venezuela.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.