KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Players have come back from retirement before, but not many have come back after three years away from the game to win a spot on a team that just went to the World Series.
However, 32-year-old Bill Pulsipher may be on the verge of accomplishing such a comeback with the Cardinals.
Though Pulsipher last pitched in a Major League game on Oct. 7, 2001, the veteran left-hander has pitched his way into contention for a spot in the Cardinals' bullpen. On Monday, he pitched a hitless seventh inning against the Braves. In seven innings this spring, Pulsipher has yet to give up a run and has allowed just five hits and one walk.
With camp winding down, Pulsipher has arguably pitched well enough to earn a job in the bullpen.
"I don't know if it's nailed down, but I know I've been throwing the ball good, and I'm getting positive feedback from the coaching staff," Pulsipher said. "I've done as well as I can, and hopefully they'll keep me around."
Pulsipher got two outs on two pitches Monday before walking Ryan Langerhans on a 3-2 pitch that just missed.
"I was kind of upset with myself for walking a guy with two outs," Pulsipher said. "I was hoping to go all spring without walking anybody."
The former second-round pick of the Mets in the 1991 draft, who had retired because of injuries, says his health is no longer an issue. He is healthy and has worked very hard this spring, and has also lost weight since camp began.
Pulsipher is not the only veteran lefty who has looked impressive this spring. Mike Myers has held opposing hitters to a .160 batting average. Myers pitched a perfect inning against the Braves with two strikeouts.
"They've had their moments in both directions so far," manager Tony La Russa said.
Another lefty, Randy Flores, has also pitched well enough to merit serious consideration.
"Randy's done a good job," La Russa said.
In six innings, Flores has allowed six hits, no walks and struck out four. The 29-year-old signed as a minor league free agent in November 2003 and was 5-7 with a 3.82 ERA at Triple-A Memphis and 1-0 with a 1.93 in nine games for St. Louis last season.
La Russa could decide to keep more than one lefty to complement workhorse Ray King in the bullpen. Last year King and Steve Kline, now with Baltimore, made a combined 153 appearances.
For now this spring, the southpaw sprint looks like a cavalry charge, with too many horses bunched together. It should make for a very tough call.
"You want tough decisions, you don't want easy ones," pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "I hope they make it as tough as possible."
He broke his toe yesterday on a line drive comeback. Sounds like he might not start the season with the big club. He is going to try and throw this weekend against the AA club. With the injury on his push off foot instead of his landing foot he might be OK but we will have to wait and see.
Pogotheostrich wrote:He broke his toe yesterday on a line drive comeback. Sounds like he might not start the season with the big club. He is going to try and throw this weekend against the AA club. With the injury on his push off foot instead of his landing foot he might be OK but we will have to wait and see. story
Aw, man... That's really sad. He's the "Bo Hart" feel-good story of the pre-season. I would hate to see his chances to play in the Bigs ruined so close to the start of the season.
I guess it could be worse, since it's not season-ending. Still, you hate to see bad things happen to (seemingly) good people.