Four years after his last minor league appearance and eight years since he last saw the majors, right-hander Dennis Tankersley is attempting a comeback. He signed a minor league deal with the Padres, his former team.
Tankersley was just a 38th-round pick of the Red Sox in 1998, but given his early success, it appalled many when he was traded to San Diego for Ed Sprague two years later. He quickly emerged as a top arm in the San Diego system, going 10-4 with a 1.98 ERA and a 173/44 K/BB ratio in three stops in 2001. Baseball America rated him the franchise’s No. 2 prospect entering 2002, sandwiching him between Sean Burroughs and Jake Peavy.
Unfortunately, Tankersley never could establish himself in the majors. He went 1-4 with an 8.06 ERA in nine starts and eight relief appearances in 2002. In 2003, he had one disastrous appearance with the Padres, giving up seven runs without retiring a batter. He was a bit more successful in 2004, but he still had an 0-5 record to go along with his 5.14 ERA in six starts and three relief appearances. Overall, he was 1-10 with a 7.61 ERA and a 68/61 K/BB ratio in 86 1/3 innings.
After 2004, Tankersley spent four more seasons in Triple-A rotations, never bettering a 4.00 ERA in any of them. He was last seen going 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2008.
Tankersley is still just 33, and if his arm is sound, there’s little harm in giving him a shot. He’ll probably top out in Triple-A again, but with pitchers, one never knows for sure. Just ask the Giants about Ryan Vogelsong.
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.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.