Pat Neshek and his wife lost their son, Gehrig John Neshek, one day after he was born in October.
Six months later the A’s reliever spoke to John Hickey of San Jose Mercury News about the tragic death:
The devastation has never left me. … I don’t think I’ve had time to come to terms with what happened. We had to grieve in public, which we didn’t know how to do. When the season was over it was mid-October. Then the holidays were right there. We couldn’t enjoy anything. Christmas was really hard.
I still feel the devastation, and I don’t know if that will change, but this is the happiest I’ve been, maybe since I’ve been playing baseball. I feel like Oakland could be a place to be for a long time. … [We’ll] be forever grateful to the organization, the way they reached out to us, the way they supported us.
Hickey writes that the Neshek family can’t discuss any specifics about their son’s death because “the autopsy didn’t give enough clarity” and “there are lawsuits pending.”
I’ve been rooting for Neshek since he was a little-known side-arming reliever in the Twins’ farm system a decade ago because he’s a really good guy and when healthy a really good pitcher. It would be awfully nice to see him have a great season.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.