I am happy to be back in Baltimore. It’s the first time I’ve repeated with a team ever, which is different for me, but also really nice because there are a lot of familiar faces. This team knew who I was and what I am capable of doing, so I think it was a no-brainer for both of us. It’s an opportunity for me to possibly get back into the big leagues this year and for them it’s a back-up arm. If they do make a push or make some trades, either way, now they’ve got someone they can count on to put up some innings when they need it. They knew what they were getting and expect me to get back to doing what I was doing earlier in the year. I’m someone they can lean on.
I was a starter here in 2012. I always started when I was in Triple A. And then I started a couple times when I was up and down from the big leagues. I had a handful of relief appearances, but I was always the long guy, still an over the top regular pitcher. It’s a different role now, but hopefully I can offer something they see themselves needing. We’ve got four left-handed relievers here, with two in the big leagues, so it’s not a place that’s going to make it super easy for me to get to the big leagues. But regardless, it’s good to be back.
The first time I threw when I got here, it had been 16 days since I was in a game, which is a long time, especially for a reliever. In Atlanta, I was throwing so much that it was easy to stay sharp. My first time out, I had a walk, which I don’t do very often. I think it was only the third one I’ve had this season down here, but I wasn’t thrilled about it. I threw again the other day and had a six-pitch inning, which is more like who I am and how I work generally. I’m feeling good again. It doesn’t take long. I have a little bit of an achy arm right now, but with all that time off and then getting back out there, it was bound to happen. It’s nothing alarming.
The one thing I always liked about Buck Showalter was that he lets you know where you stand pretty much. I remember one occasion a few years ago where he got on me about something (I was the long guy and was only able to throw three innings out of the bullpen and got worn out). He kind of got on me a little bit, but we talked about it and it was fine. That’s all you can ask for as a player. I like him. He’s good with his players.
I got let go for the first time in my career. In the 13 years I’ve been playing this game, I’ve never been released. I’ve become a free agent plenty of times in the offseason, but I’ve never been let go by a team during the year…or period. When I’ve left teams, it’s been on my own or because my contract was up. This is the first time I’ve actually been brought into the office and told I was being let go.
The rollercoaster ride continues. And the season continues to remain interesting. Now I’m home. Again. Unfortunately this time it’s under different circumstances. I’m between teams and it doesn’t feel like they’re going to be jumping to get me. In my opinion, baseball has a tendency to have a short memory, so nobody cares about the 1.50 ERA I put up in the first couple months. They just look at the 3 1/3 innings I threw in the big leagues. I threw in 10 games for the Braves and threw a total of 3 1/3 innings! That’s the first time I was truly used as a left-handed specialist – and didn’t do terribly at it. But didn’t do well enough for, I guess, their liking. Or they’ve just decided to go younger. I’m not exactly sure. I wasn’t really given a true definition of why I was being let go.
I’ve had my ups and downs so much throughout my career – I’ve been with 10 teams now – so I’ve been able to shake it off. I got pissed off for a day or two, but there was nothing I could do about it. Why sit around and get overly emotional or upset about something when you can’t change it? The only thing I can do now is look forward and see what’s next. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m doing everything I can to stay in shape, keep my arm fresh, and wait for the phone call from whoever needs me next…and I’ll be ready to go.
My agent has gotten a few phone calls from a few teams (Baltimore, Seattle, Milwaukee), who may want to possibly bring me in as a backup in case they need help later on down the road. But it’s kind of funny timing with the All-Star break happening. When it happened, when I officially cleared waivers, there were only two days left before the break. I don’t think anybody is ready to jump at a guy at that time of the year. I’m hoping that at the end of this All-Star break, teams will start thinking about if they need a lefty.
I want to go pitch. I don’t really care where I end up or if I have to go back to Triple-A for a while. I just want to pitch and continue to prove that I’m still god enough to pitch at the Major League level and hopefully put myself in a good situation for next year. But I’d obviously love to spend as much time as I can for the rest of this season in a Major League uniform…wherever that may be.
June has been an interesting month. On June 1, I took my out with the Red Sox and ended up having to sit in Pawtucket for two and half days while they made their decision. I had no idea, but I guess there’s a 48-hour window from when you tell them you’re going to take an out to when they have to decide whether or not they want to call you up or allow you to take it. The team was on the road, and I stayed in Pawtucket waiting to find out…eventually getting let go at 11 p.m. on the night that they had until midnight to let me know.
From there, I went home for a couple days while we made the decision on where I would sign. I had interest from a few teams, but elected to sign with the Braves. My agent thought it was a no-brainer and that it was the best fit for me. They were basically asking me to come there for a 7-day tryout. I made one appearance for Gwinnett throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings and had like four strikeouts.
Next thing I knew, I was in Atlanta. Since I’ve been up, it’s been kind of up and down. I’ve had some good outings and I’ve had a few tough ones. But they’re getting their money’s worth out of me. I’ve been throwing quite a bit, just kind of lefty situational stuff…kind of like the job I wanted that I wasn’t doing at the beginning of the year. I’m trying to get used to throwing almost every day again, so it’s been a little tough.
Roger McDowell is phenomenal and everybody on the coaching staff seems really good. As a pitcher, you don’t get to develop too much of a relationship with the management. Last year in New York, it took Terry Collins and I a couple months before we really got to know each other. It’ll probably be the same way with Fredi.
We have some really cool vets down in the bullpen, which has been really fun. We’ve got like four guys there with twice as much service time as me. We don’t have a lot of big-time superstars, but we have a lot of guys who want to compete. Nobody wants to give in and say, “We’re not supposed to be that good this year, so let’s just accept it.” Nobody wants to do that. Jonny Gomes is the vocal guy in the clubhouse that’s constantly trying to keep the guys on their toes and keep everybody pumped up about trying to win and do something this year. It’s a good group, and I’m really enjoying it!