In August 2011, the Texas Rangers released Arthur Rhodes. Before he signed three days later with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Orioles received word that Rhodes wanted to conclude his career with them.
They weren’t interested. At 41, Rhodes got to pitch in his first World Series for the Cardinals, and found no interest in his services last spring.
After a year out of the game, he’s interested in coming back, and according to the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have worked him out.
Rhodes is now 43, and still lives in Phoenix, Md. He appeared at the Orioles FanFest on Jan.19, looking in good shape, but the odds against a Rhodes comeback are long.
It’s been nearly 22 years since Rhodes debuted for the Orioles at Memorial Stadium, and with the retirement of Omar Vizquel, there’s no one left in the majors who played there.
Rhodes was a second round pick of the Orioles in 1988, and showed some promise as a starter. In 1996, Davey Johnson moved him into the bullpen with terrific results, and Rhodes never started another big league game.
The left-hander was one of Johnson’s favorites, but when the Rangers released him in 2011, the Nationals manager had no interest in him either. And with Washington short of left-handed relievers, they showed no interest in auditioning him this time around.
In his prime, Rhodes was a dynamic reliever. His best season came in 2001 with Seattle when he was 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA. After his second stint with the Mariners, Rhodes was again outstanding as a lefty specialist with a 0.68 ERA in 25 games in Florida.
He pitched in the major leagues for 20 years with the Orioles, Mariners, Reds, Phillies, Cardinals, Athletics, Rangers, Indians and Marlins. In 2010, Rhodes made his first and only All-Star team with Cincinnati.
Besides Rhodes, the Orioles worked out another left-handed youngster last month, Mark Hendrickson, who’s expected to be invited to spring training. Hendrickson is a relative youth at 38.
What’s wrong with bring Hendrickson and Rhodes to spring training?
More looks at these guys are fewer looks at Mike Belfiore or Zach Clark, younger pitchers who potentially could help the team this season. To truly gauge his effectiveness, Rhodes would have to pitch in prime innings against major league batters in the spring.
A younger pitcher would be relegated to pitching in the eighth or ninth inning in the spring against minor league hitters who they’ve presumably already had success against.
Hendrickson would have no qualms about pitching in Norfolk. He did it for much of 2011 when there wasn’t room for him. Other than a rehab assignment, Rhodes hasn’t pitched in the minor leagues since Phil Regan was his manager, in 1995.
A Rhodes comeback story would be fun to write about, but that’s about it. At 43, could he compete with Troy Patton, Brian Matusz, T.J. McFarland, Belfiore and Hendrickson for a spot in the bullpen?
It will be intriguing if the Orioles think he can.
-Earl Williams, who was with the Orioles for two seasons, has died at 64. Williams was acquired from Atlanta in Nov. 1972 for Pat Dobson, Roric Harrison, Davey Johnson and Johnny Oates.
Williams was a highly touted hitter, but his catching shortcomings enraged manager Earl Weaver. He lasted two seasons in Baltimore, 1973-74. He hit .245 with 36 home runs in his time with the Orioles.
In his eight year major league career, Williams batted .247 with 138 home runs with the Orioles, Braves, Athletics and Expos.