Instead of complaining about the fact that Heath Bell and Willie Bloomquist are on Team USA’s provisional World Baseball Classic roster, I thought it might be more fun to highlight some ex-major leaguers dotting the rosters of other squads:
RHP Chris Oxspring (35) – Appeared in five games for Padres in 2005
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (30) – Effective Mariner in 2008-09 before getting hurt
1B Justin Huber (30) – Former top prospect hit .224, 2 HR in 161 AB
OF Chris Snelling (31) – Talented but never healthy, hit .244/.360/.400 in 225 AB
RHP Dan Serafini (39) – 15-16 with a 6.04 ERA from 1996-2007
RHP Brian Sweeney (39) – 3.38 in 73 appearances, the last coming in 2010
INF Kazuo Matsui (37) – Hit .267/.321/.380 in 7 seasons before returning home
RHP Jae Weong Seo (35) – 28-40, 4.60 ERA from 2002-2007
INF Edgar Gonzalez (34) – Adrian’s older brother, teammate on 2008-09 Padres
OF Karim Garcia (37) – Unknown to Pedro Martinez, hit 66 big-league homers
RHP Dicky Gonzalez (34) – Quad-A pitcher has spent last 5 years in Japan
INF Luis Figueroa (39) – 2 AB in 2001, 9 in 2006, 5 in 2007
INF Andy Gonzalez (31) – Hit .185 in 67 games for White Sox in 2008
LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (31) – 3.73 ERA, 345 strikeouts in 292 IP
Unfortunately, Colombia (Edgar Renteria and Jolbert Cabrera) and Panama (Ramiro Mendoza and Ruben Rivera) failed to make the final 16 for the WBC, so we’ll miss out on their vets.
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.