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Home » Around BaseballJanuary 2005 » Bullpen Goodbyes

Bullpen Goodbyes

Scott Williamson and Curtis Leskanic are flip sides of the same coin. What could have been, and what became. Both living the tenuous, tumultuous life of a bullpen pitcher, subject to quick hooks and dirty looks.

I had forgotten that Williamson was the NL’s rookie of the year in 1999. He missed the 2001 season due to Tommy John surgery, and from that point was not to be one of the anointed elite but a journeyman, eeking out a niche by needing to prove, time and again, that he wasn’t washed up. In 2003, I witnessed the pinch-hit home run Ruben Sierra lofted into right field in Game 4 of the ALCS. It was the only earned run he gave up through the entirety of that postseason. A postseason that should have included the World Series, with him striking out Ivan Rodriguez to get the final out of the 100th WS. What could have been.

What will he become? Someone like Curtis Leskanic, the very definition of nomad? Someone that is supposedly not to be trusted when the game is on the line? When the call came in Game 4, Leskanic pitched 1 1/3 innings of shutout ball, earning a win, and another chance for his team to play. In that act, he sacrificed his arm, ending his 12-year career and his chance to play again. But he cannot possibly regret that he was one of the 25, and what he became.

Williamson has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs, once again needing to prove he can play and that the rigors of relief pitching have not diminished him. Since he was denied in 2003, I hope that he hears that call, and that, like Leskanic, he answers and becomes what he was meant to be.


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