Could anyone blame the 34-year-old, though, if he did consider just saying enough is enough?
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Or how about when he was so excited to play for Mexico in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, only to tear an elbow ligament during the tournament, putting his career in jeopardy?
That was nothing compared to when his life — and his family's future — was at stake in January 2010, when rifle-wielding bandits burst into his house in Mexico and held him at gunpoint for 40 minutes in what apparently was a case of mistaken identity.
The Orioles' new sinkerballing reliever has had to deal with an inordinate number of curveballs — in baseball and in life. And he keeps beating the odds, keeps coming back.
"When you have a lot of bad things happen, you can't always focus every day," said Ayala, who signed a one-year, $925,000 deal with the Orioles this offseason with a $1 million option for 2013. "Everything has happened, from 2006 to 2010. Sometimes you've got to put things away, out of your mind."
Ayala didn't do that in 2010; he couldn't get past his home invasion. He had driven several hours from a game in the Mexican Winter League to his home in Los Mochis, Mexico, because his son was ill and he wanted to be there for the next day's appointment. It was late at night near his hometown when he noticed a car following him for miles; it passed by slowly when he arrived at his house.
About an hour later, a group of men with AK-47 assault rifles burst into his home. He had time to call the police from a cell phone before Ayala, his wife and his sick baby son were held captive by what were at least 25 men.
Reports on the incident differ slightly. An Associated Press news story said the group targeted Ayala but fled when police came. But Ayala said at the time that the outlaws, probably associated with a drug cartel, thought he was someone else and left before the cops came.
"They confused me with another guy, but they trashed my house," Ayala said Tuesday.
He is crystal clear about the impact the incident had on him, the fear emanating when he thought that he and his family might die.
"It was the worst, because you never know what will happen, what they would do," Ayala said. "It was something that was in my mind that whole year."
He bounced around to three organizations in 2010, all at Triple-A, and posted a 6.42 combined ERA in 36 games. It was the first time since his contract was purchased from the Mexican League in 2002 that he had spent time in the minors in a season without getting a call-up. It would have been an understandable time to retire.
"I remember in 2010, when I went to Triple-A and I was like, 'Wow.' It was hard for me because I had played mostly in the big leagues," Ayala said. "And I was like, 'What is going on? I've got to do better. What can I do? I focused and worked hard and went day by day, and I had to keep in mind that I can do it."
He agreed to a minor league deal with the New York Yankees after that season and appeared to be spring training depth last March, not much more. But he made the team, and excelled, posting a 2.09 ERA — his lowest as a big leaguer — in 52 games.
His nasty sinkerball returned. And with it came confidence. And then success.
The Orioles signed him in February to be another solid arm in the bullpen, and he is a lock to make the club despite having appeared in only two exhibition games (one earned run allowed in two innings), partially because he has been dealing with extreme allergies this spring.
He was also signed to be a positive influence on the club's young cadre of pitchers.