Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Against all odds

No, not the lame movie and the sappy Phil Collins song. Just an interesting piece on guys fighting their way to a) make it, b) stay there and/or c) get back to the major leagues. (Thanks to Marc for the link!)

Some examples:
21. Dan Giese, SP, New York Yankees: Planned on retiring after the 2005 season. Found out that selling Hondas is not terribly fun, returned to baseball and now, three years later, is in the Yankees' rotation and sporting a 2.35 ERA.

Mike Adams, RP, San Diego: Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M-Kingsville, Adams was a serviceable reliever before knee problems sidelined him for all of 2007. He ended up having three microfracture surgeries — in which doctors intentionally break bones to let them reheal — and now has a 2.20 ERA, seventh-best among NL relievers with at least 40 innings.

Mike Aviles, SS, Kansas City: The perception: Short, kinda fat, slow bat who's a career minor leaguer. The reality: hitting over .330 and would be in the running for the batting title had the Royals called him up earlier.

Doug Brocail, RP, Houston: Elbow blew out. Underwent Tommy John surgery. Elbow blew out again. Tommy John again. Suffered shortness of breath. Got four stents inserted into his heart. Now takes more than 20 pills a day and, at 41 years old, remains a serviceable middle reliever for the Astros.

Brad Ziegler, RP, Oakland: Broke his skull on a Fred Lewis line drive in the minor leagues. Came back as a submarine pitcher and broke the skull again this offseason when playing catch. Debuted May 31 and hasn't given up a run, working his way to closer amid a 38-inning scoreless streak that set a major-league record for consecutive scoreless innings to start a career.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas: Hamilton, the No. 1 overall pick in 1999, was always supposed to make it big. Just not under such circumstances. From an addict who smoked crack and spent nearly four years in a drug-addled haze to the game's golden boy, Hamilton's resurgence remains the great story in baseball this season — and one that's so tinged with improbability, he had to be No. 1.

Pretty amazing stuff, eh?

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