He pitched one of the best games of his life this past Friday. It was arguably the biggest stage he has been on in his baseball career. Yet, did Nelson Figueroa‘s six shutout innings of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic earn him a spot on the staff of the Arizona Diamondbacks? The entire until seems to be settled with the exception of the fifth starter’s spot and Figueroa did sign only a minor league contract. Perhaps his performance has made management think twice about certain areas that were previously thought to be closed.
2013 could be a magical year for Nelson Figueroa. Image: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
I had almost forgotten that Figueroa first came up to the Big Leagues way back in 2000 with the D’backs. His time in the Valley was brief as he appeared in three games before being a part of the deal that brought Curt Schilling to Arizona. Now he has a chance to once again be a part of the team and this time make a different sort of history. He is 39 years old with 20 career victories, not the kind of mark that would leave a great impression on anyone. However, the poise the right-hander showed in setting down a good American lineup must have impressed D’back hierarchy, enough to maybe expand the candidates for the #5 spot back up to three. Sure, Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado has been impressive at times but did either of them have a game like Figueroa? Yes, I get it the upside for Corbin and Delgado are much higher than Figueroa. But Figueroa can start and relieve, versatility that I am sure manager Kirk Gibson appreciates. Plus, he has shown an abundance of persistence, hanging around baseball even though he hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since 2011.
Am I making too much of an issue based on one game in March? A team can never have enough pitching depth. Maybe he won’t start the season in Arizona but I have a feeling this might be a pretty good year for Nelson Figueroa. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins a couple of big games down the stretch for his team, be it the D’backs or someone else. Sometimes there is magic surrounding a pitcher who never quits, even one who is almost 40 years old.
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