About 17 months ago, right-hander Armando Galarraga's name transcended baseball. He was more than the subject of water-cooler talk. He was thrown into the middle of an unrivaled controversy -- and he emerged the recipient of mass public sympathy. For maybe a week, he might have been the biggest name in the game.
And now the Orioles have reportedly signed Galarraga to a minor league deal with a spring training invitation. Of course, Galarraga is best known as the former Tigers hurler who had a perfect game taken away from him June 2, 2010, on umpire Jim Joyce's missed call with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Cleveland.
Joyce tearfully admitted his mistake, apologized, and Galarraga gracefully forgave him. Galarraga and Joyce became the focus of national media attention -- leaving society to ponder the meaning of perfection and the fine line between it and one untimely error.
But as with most things, when his 15 minutes of mainstream fame was up, Galarraga was the same as before -- a major league pitcher still trying to establish himself.
And the Venezuelan-born Galarraga hasn't really been the same since. He is 5-12 with a 5.10 ERA at the major league level since the near-perfect game. A year ago this month, the Tigers designated him for assignment a day after signing him to a $2.3 million deal, avoiding arbitration. He was dealt to Arizona, where he immediately struggled, going 3-4 with a 5.91 ERA in eight starts.
He also had a penchant for giving up in the long ball with the Diamondbacks, allowing 13 homers in 42 2/3 innings (an ugly 2.7 HR-per-nine-innings average). By the end of May, he had been designated for assignment and was in Triple-A, where he didn't fare any better (1-2, 9.26 ERA in five starts). He has been pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, going 1-2 with a 6.65 ERA in five starts.
Keep in mind that in 2008, Galarraga's rookie season with Detroit, he went 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA in 178 2/3 innings. His win-loss record could have been better if the sub-.500 Tigers didn't blow six games in which he left with the lead.
Right now, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Galarraga, who turned 30 on Sunday, is simply another addition to the Orioles' growing stable of starting pitchers. He will likely add some good competition to spring training, and he's a bargain-bin buy because he's signed to a minor league deal.
But he's also a fix-it job because he's been a fly-ball pitcher with a high walk ratio, which figures to be a bad formula in the AL East.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun