Former Expos, Red Sox [and a bunch of other teams’] reliever Ugueth Urbina has been indisposed for several years. Which is what happens when you attack several men with a machete and then try to douse them with gasoline. He was sentenced to 14 years in a Venezulean prison, serving a bit under six, before being released in December of last year.
Last night he returned to the mound for the Caracas Lions, pitching a scoreless sixth inning, striking out one and walking one. Here’s the box score. Here’s the game story. The gamer is in Spanish, which is awesome in Google translate if, for no other reason, than “seasons” gets translates to “harvests.” Also: I learned that “slugfest” is “el festival de batazos” in Spanish, and that’s just an utterly fantastic phrase.
The story says Urbina had not pitched in Venezuela since the winter of 2000-01, which roughly corresponds with the point in his career where you’d expect a major leaguer of his stature to no longer play winter ball. Either way, this appears to be Urbina’s first actual baseball game since he finished the 2005 season with the Phillies.
He’ll turn 40 in February. No idea what his plans are, but it’d take the most improbable comeback in baseball history if he wanted to pitch in the bigs again.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.
It’s not known yet what kind of contract the two sides are negotiating. It could be a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, a non-guaranteed major league contract, or a guaranteed major league contract.
The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.
Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.
President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.