March 23, 2005

FROM CHICO TO SAFECO:

Relentless drive pushes Madritsch (Jim Caple, 3/11/05, ESPN.com)

Back in the days when he was pitching in independent leagues and getting by on sub-minimum-wage pay and pregame spreads of peanut butter sandwiches, Seattle pitcher Bobby Madritsch once grew so disenchanted by his team's lack of professionalism that he simply left a game in the eighth inning, cleaned out his locker, got in his truck and drove 1,500 miles from Texas to Pittsburgh for a tryout with another league ... without first taking off his uniform.

This would have made for an interesting conversation with a state trooper – "But officer, there's a save situation in Pittsburgh and the bullpen cart broke down" – and it also gives you an idea of Madritsch's determination to succeed in baseball.

After all, when the tryout in Pittsburgh fell through, he traveled all the way across the country to California to pitch for the famous Chico Heat.

Thus, it shouldn't have been a surprise when the Mariners called up Madritsch last summer and he didn't show the slightest intimidation at the likes of Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero. What's the big deal about a 3-0 count to David Ortiz after you've grown up among the gangs in South Chicago, never known your mother and endured that roughest life of all – pitching for four independent teams, including three in one summer?

"I just kept telling myself, I've been through worse before,'' Madritsch said. "And by worse, I mean real-life situations. Being able to move forward and become a better person from that helps me on the baseball field, so I don't get cold feet or put my tail between my legs or start shaking.''

Madritsch, 29, was 6-3 with a 3.27 ERA last year after a late July call-up, and the Mariners need him to continue that success if they are to have much chance of rebounding from their 99-loss season. The left-hander certainly has the stuff – he throws his fastball in the low 90s with an effective cutter, slider and changeup. He also has the attitude that comes from pulling himself out of a life on the other side of the tracks.

Raised by his father, he's never known his mother (though he knows where she lives now and hopes for a meeting). He admits to getting into a lot of trouble as a teen – "I was always playing with fire and getting burned all the time'' – and said he finally turned things around after getting badly hurt: "I knew right from wrong after that."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2005 8:27 PM
Comments

Two stories about the Mariners in as many days--Orrin, you're getting this Seattle ex-pat misty eyed.

Posted by: Anthony Perez-Miller at March 24, 2005 1:46 AM

It's too bad the Mariner players and scouts aren't as good as their PR Department.

Posted by: bart at March 24, 2005 10:05 AM

Just shows that if you are a left handed reliever, you get a lot of chances in life.

Posted by: Dan at March 24, 2005 10:32 AM
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