Friday, March 13, 2009
Our Washington Nationals have signed "Ancient" Pitcher Julian Tavarez to a Minor League Contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The 35 Year Old right handed reliever, who seems to have been around FOREVER, is just one more arm to throw out there to see if he has anything left in the tank. Assistant GM Mike Rizzo told the media this evening he doesn't want those currently looking for a bullpen roster spot in Washington's Relief Corp to be comfortable with their current efforts. No one is guaranteed a spot. I actually like that comment alot. And although Tavarez never really developed into the top talent many expected 14 years ago, he has had a decent, if unspectacular career, with some interesting and emotional moments.
None more memorable to me than one that I have carried in my mind since the very day it happened--for the life of me I can't find a picture of the moment--but it did occur.
In 1995, Tavarez was a hot rookie pitcher for The Cleveland Indians. The very year The Indians won The American League Pennant and played The Atlanta Braves in The World Series. Pitching in a tight 1-0 game in Game 6, Tavarez was taken out after relieving in the 8th inning, but not completing the frame. Julian continued to watch the remainder of this tight World Series affair from the bench at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Eventually, The Braves would go on to win Game 6, by that same 1-0 score and claim the World Series Title that same night--4 Games to 2. As The Atlanta Braves celebrated their Championship on the field, and their fans were whooping it up in the stands, Tavarez was shown on television crying on the bench--uncontrollably.
I have never forgotten it.
Julian was downright sobbing, upset and devastated that his Cleveland Indians had come so close, yet had lost The World Championship. If you did see this scene, you would never forget it too.
It is still one of my favorite and most memorable moments watching sports as an adult. Tavarez was young then, just 22 Years Old, Hard Throwing and Impressionable, but he really cared about the game. Julian Tavarez wanted to win, and I have always appreciated his emotion shown that late October night in 1995.
It's why we play the games.
Emotion, when controlled, can be an asset in many walks of life. And having no idea if Julian Tavarez is still able to be an effective reliever--I would like to see if he can light a fire under the feet of his new bullpen competitors in Washington and make us better.
Here is the complete press release from the team:
WASHINGTON NATIONALS AGREE TO TERMS WITH RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVER JULIAN TAVAREZ
The Washington Nationals today agreed to terms with right-handed relief pitcher Julian Tavarez on a non-guaranteed minor-league contract and Spring Training invitation. Nationals Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Tavarez, 35, is 85-75 with 22 saves and a 4.45 ERA (677 ER/1369.1 IP) in 786 games (108 starts) spanning 16 seasons with Cleveland, San Francisco, Colorado, Chicago (NL), Florida, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta.
A veteran of five post-seasons, including two World Series (2004 with St. Louis, 1995 with Cleveland), Tavarez’s 150 career holds rank fourth among active players behind only Arthur Rhodes (193), Alan Embree (187) and Bob Howry (165). Tavarez’s 678 relief appearances rank ninth among active pitchers. He is also a four-time (1995, ‘00-02) double-digit winner at the big league level.
Last season, Tavarez combined to go 1-5 with six holds and a 5.10 ERA in 52 appearances for Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. He recently worked 1.1 scoreless innings for the Dominican Republic in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.