In Saturday afternoon’s duel between two former teammates, Athletics starter Barry Zito went two innings and Giants starter Tim Hudson went 1 1/3. Zito left to a standing ovation and Hudson gave a curtain call to the Oakland crowd. Hudson has announced he will retire after the season, and Zito will likely do the same.
Zito gave up four runs on six hits and a walk with no strikeouts in his two innings of work. He was relieved by Pat Venditte in the third. Hudson yielded three runs (two earned) on a hit and three walks with no strikeouts, leaving with one out in the second inning, giving way to Ryan Vogelsong.
Zito and Hudson were teammates on the Athletics from 2000-04 before Hudson was traded to the Braves. The club had drafted Zito in the first round, ninth overall, in the 1999 draft while they took Hudson in the sixth round in the 1997 draft.
Here’s video of both players getting some much-deserved adulation from the crowd:
Barry Zito’s comeback with the A’s fell a bit short of him making the team out of spring training. But the A’s still wanted him and sent him to Triple-A Nashville. As a veteran with his tenure, his money and his particular career path, you wouldn’t have been crazy to think that he’d say thanks but no thanks and retreat to one of his multiple California estates to drink wine and enjoy time with his family rather than pitch to guys 15 years younger than him in the Tennessee humidity.
But he is going to Nashville. And as John Shea writes in the Chronicle, it has a lot to do with the words spoken by and the example set by Rickey Henderson. Words about how baseball is fun and how having a positive attitude despite setbacks can be the difference between Zito coming back to the majors or not. The example of playing in independent ball despite already having a ticket punched to the Hall of Fame and all of the money he’d ever need.
If you’re of a certain age you remember a time when Rickey Henderson was thought of as a selfish, arrogant player who didn’t give a crap about anything. Did age change Rickey or did everyone have him wrong back in the day?
Barry Zito threw a scoreless inning against the Giants in Saturday’s spring training finale, then learned after the game that he’d been assigned to the minor leagues, per MLB.com’s Jane Lee. Zito, who could have elected free agency, has accepted the assignment and will begin the 2015 season with Triple-A Nashville.
Zito, making a comeback bid after sitting out the 2014 season, compiled a 4.79 ERA with a 14/5 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings this spring. He had been hoping to win a spot in the Athletics’ starting rotation, and when that wasn’t a possibility, he vied for a bullpen spot.
Zito, now 36, hasn’t been the same since leaving the Athletics after the 2006 season. Over the next seven seasons, all with the Giants, Zito posted a 4.62 ERA in 1,139 1/3 innings.