Ugueth Urbina is out of prison — and allegedly throwing 90

32 Comments

Roy Hobbs said that some mistakes you never stop paying for. He apparently wasn’t talking about attacking the help with a machete and pouring gasoline on them, because you do stop paying for that. After about seven years or so:

That tweet is from for major league pitcher Ugueth Urbina’s son Juan Urbina standing with Ugueth himself. The son is saying “Finally with my father!” Juan Urbina, by the way, is a 19 year-old pitcher in the Mets’ system.

This courtesy of our friend Nick Collias, who tells me that Venezuelan newspapers are reporting that Urbina is out of jail after serving a little over seven years for attempted murder. Urbina was sentenced to 14 years, but no one is quite sure why he was released early.

Urbina pitched from 1995 through 2005 with the Expos, Tigers, Red Sox, Rangers, Phillies and Marlins. He twice saved 40 games or more and was still an effective pitcher, aged 31, at the time of his arrest and incarceration. He turns 39 in February, but unless the Venezuelan prison system has an intense baseball program, we probably won’t be hearing from him again in the majors.

UPDATE: NOT SO FAST! Nick Collias updates us:

Alexander Mendoza at El Nacional reported this morning that Urbina’s fastball was still touching 90 while he was playing in the pen in Venezuela. Juan Vicente Zerpa, the general manager of the Leones de Escogido (Urbina’s old haunt in the winter leagues) said after welcoming Urbina back to society, “I heard that he’s going to come to the park and we’re going to have a conversation.” Kind of ominous-sounding, no? If this were a Scorcese movie, I’d be wary.

So it would seem that all of your “heh, the Marlins are gonna sign him now” jokes may not be so funny after all!

Just kidding, they’ll still be hilarious.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

Getty Images
Leave a comment

All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉