The Angels demoted reliever Michael Kohn and replaced him with journeyman lefty Horacio Ramirez prior to Wednesday’s game, bringing the former Brave back to the majors for the first time in two years.
Ramirez was last seen with the Royals in 2009. Despite a horrible March, he was named the team’s fifth starter out of spring training that year — Dayton Moore and company badly wanted a left-handed starter in the rotation — only to get demoted after one start. He had a 5.96 ERA in 22 2/3 innings that season before getting cut in June.
Ramirez debuted in the Braves in 2003, going 12-4 with a 4.00 ERA as a rookie. After four seasons in Atlanta, he was famously traded to Seattle for Rafael Soriano, a deal that was so clearly awful at the time that it still manages to standout in Bill Bavasi’s disastrous tenure as Mariners GM. Ramirez didn’t even last the season in Seattle as he racked up as 7.16 ERA in 20 starts. Since leaving Atlanta, he has a 6.32 ERA in 158 innings as a major leaguer.
Now he’s back after going 3-1 with a 3.47 ERA as a reliever for Triple-A Salt Lake. Lefties hit just .222 off him in 63 at-bats, so he’ll get a quick look before the Angels decide whether they need to pick up another southpaw before the deadline.
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.