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.
For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East
Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams. The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.
Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.
On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.