January 21, 2005

Eddie Oropesa saga continues

Former Phillie Eddie Oropesa signed with the Cubs with an invite
to spring training. The situational left-hander keeps his baseball dream alive that began with a dramatic defection from Cuba in 1993.

The story of Eddie Oropesa will likely go unnoticed, and even more so when Cubs fans catch wind of his 7.34 lifetime ERA. But his journey to the big leagues, aided in large by the scouting efforts of Ruben Amaro Sr. and Goose Gregson, is a reminder to fans that baseball's greatest appeal is perhaps its human element.

In 2001, when Oropesa came out of nowhere to win a spot with the Phils in spring training, the Reading Eagle's Phil Gianficaro did a piece on his defection.

In 1993, at age 21, he leaped from a hotel window and over a chain-link fence, into a getaway car in full uniform while pitching for the Cuban National Team before an exhibition game in Buffalo. He abandoned his wife and unborn son in Cuba. He wouldn't see them again for three years.

He was drafted by the Dodgers in 1994 and pitched eight years in the minors, never above Double-A - a death sentence. He tried Japan and Mexico, and eventually washed up in Venezuela where Amaro and Gregson rediscovered him.

He signed as a minor league free agent in October of 2000 and got a non-roster invite. He was the sensation of spring, nearly unhittable even, and beat out the several others to win a spot on the team.

"The most important thing is now I can give my (family) something I wasn't able to give them in the past," he said in Gianficaro's piece.

That season, he went 1-0 in 30 games with a 4.74 ERA. He was granted free agency after the season and signed with Arizona and struggled, finishing with a 10.30 ERA. He re-upped with Arizona in 2003 but missed half the season after being hit by a line drive.

Last season, he got a spring invite to San Diego but did not pitch well, 16 games, 2-1, 11.00 ERA. His last big-league game came May 20 against the Phillies, before he was sent to the minors to make room for Rod Beck.

BPF Take
A love for statistics cannot explain why BPF correspondent Will Travel and I always check the boxscores for Eddie Oropesa. Part of it is this story.

The other part is how lefties just stick around forever. I often say if I die and had a chance to come back as anything, I'd come back as a a situational southpaw. In a way, that's what happened to Oropesa. He keeps going, and going and going.


At 1:26 PM, Blogger RED said...

Sweet blog man. The Phillies are gonna be tough this season mark my words. i read your whole blog and it rocks. Pleas stop by mine today and coment about our subject we are talking about. I think you would have some good info


At 1:29 PM, Blogger el123chico said...

he should never have left cuba. i know i wouldn't. viva le presidente. viva le communism!!


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