Volume 12 Week 5

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(Posted 11 p.m., March 18)
Impressive outing moves Bédard step closer to making Astros roster
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Navan native Erik Bédard is trying to make the opening day roster of the Houston Astros after signing a minor league contract with the club in January. File photo


Navan native Erik Bédard made his best case yet to make the Houston Astros opening day roster when he fanned five Blue Jays in three scoreless innings in Kissimee, Florida on Sunday.

In only his second appearance since returning from a glut injury, and only his third spring training appearance this year, Bédard three 20 pitches, all of them strikes in retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced.

Mike Nickleas was the only Jays batter to hit safely when he led off the eighth inning with a double. Bédard got the next batter to pop out to first and then struckout the next two hitters to get out of the inning and pick up his first ever career save.

The big lefthander is trying to make the Astros opening day roster after signing a minor league contract with the club in January. The Astros signed him on a flyer hoping he might win the fourth spot in their rotation. They may also be thinking about using him in relief, either as a set up man or a closer.

Wherever he might fit in is unimportant to the 33-year-old Bédard who is happy just to get the opportunity to extend his major league career at least one more year.

Drafted in 1999 by the Baltimore Orioles, Bédard's career has been marred by a series of injuries which have prevented him from fulfilling the potential he demonstrated from 2006 to 2008 when he was one of the most overpowering pitchers in the majors.

In 2007, Bédard set an Orioles franchise record for most strikeouts in a season with 221 and most strike outs per nine innings at more than 10. After he ended the season on the DL with a strained oblique muscle, the Orioles dealt Bédard to the Seattle Mariners where injuries limited him to just 15 appearances in each of 2008 and 2009.

Shoulder problems forced him to miss the entire 2010 season. The Mariners ended up dealing Bédard to the Boston Red Sox on July 31, 2011 where he appeared in just eight before being released in the off season.

Despite spending more time on the DL than off, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to sign Bédard to a one-year contract worth $4.5 million.

Playing In his first injury free season in four years, Bédard made 24 starts before bring released by the Pirates on Aug. 21 for "performance related" reasons after registering his 14th loss against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bédard was left to ponder early retirement until the Astros came calling on him in January.

After earning an estimated $25 million in his first nine seasons, Bédard is getting what in baseball is the minimum wage for one last opportunity to play big league baseball. For now, at least, it's looking more and more likely he'll get his shot.

(Posted 11 a.m., March 17)

 

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