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Archive for the ‘Pitchers’ Category

Before he became a reliable reliever for the 1964 World Series champion Cardinals, Ron Taylor began his big-league career as a starting pitcher for the Indians. His debut was remarkable.

On April 11, 1962, the first time he played in a major-league game, Taylor got the start against the Red Sox at Boston’s Fenway Park, pitched 11 shutout innings and lost when he gave up a walkoff grand slam to Carroll Hardy in the 12th.

Taylor’s counterpart, Red Sox starter Bill Monbouquette, pitched 12 shutout innings and yielded four hits, two to Taylor. The Indians produced one hit, Taylor’s single in the sixth, in the first nine innings.

Smart prospect

Born and raised in Toronto, Taylor was signed by the Indians as a teen and spent six seasons (1956-61) in their farm system. During the winters, he attended the University of Toronto and in 1961 he received a degree in electrical engineering.

At spring training in 1962, Taylor, 24, was the Indians’ best pitcher in exhibition games, The Sporting News reported. The right-hander yielded one earned run in 15 innings and was chosen by manager Mel McGaha to start the second game of the regular season.

“He’s got brains and that isn’t going to hurt him any,” McGaha said.

Multiple talents

The Red Sox opened the season with a surprise choice, Carroll Hardy, as their right fielder. Described by the Boston Globe as a ‘chisel-chinned outfielder” and by the New York Times as having a “square Dick Tracy jaw,” Hardy had been a backup during his time in the big leagues.

An accomplished athlete from Sturgis, South Dakota, Hardy had a tryout with the baseball Cardinals after he graduated from high school and got a contract offer from them, according to the Society for American Baseball Research, but chose to attend the University of Colorado.

Hardy excelled in baseball, football and track. A halfback who averaged 6.8 yards per carry for Colorado, Hardy was chosen by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 1955 NFL draft.

Opting to try both pro baseball and pro football in 1955, Hardy played in the Indians’ farm system and for the 49ers. An effective receiver out of the backfield, Hardy had 12 receptions, including four for touchdowns on passes from Y.A. Tittle. Hardy had a 78-yard touchdown reception against the Detroit Lions and made two touchdown catches in a game versus the Green Bay Packers.

After two years in the Army, Hardy opted to focus on baseball. A right-handed batter, he reached the majors with the Indians in 1958. Hardy’s first big-league home run, a walkoff three-run shot versus Billy Pierce of the White Sox, came when he batted for Roger Maris in the 11th inning. Boxscore

Hardy was traded to the Red Sox in June 1960.

Three months later, in the first inning of a game at Baltimore, Red Sox icon Ted Williams swung at a knuckleball from the Orioles’ Hal Brown and hit the ball straight down into his right foot. Williams suffered a severely bruised ankle, couldn’t put weight on his foot and had to leave the game. Hardy replaced him and thus became the only player to bat for Williams in a big-league game.

With the count 0-and-1, a runner on first and one out, Hardy bunted at the first pitch he saw from Brown and popped up to the pitcher. Brown snared the ball and threw to first in time to catch the runner off base for a double play. Boxscore

A year later, Hardy batted for another future Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski, in the eighth inning of a game against the Yankees and bunted for a single versus closer Luis Arroyo. Boxscore

Goose eggs

In 1962, Hardy, 28, had two hits on Opening Day, but Dick Donovan shut out the Red Sox in a 4-0 Indians victory. Boxscore

The next day, Hardy was back in the starting lineup to oppose Ron Taylor in his debut.

The game became a duel between starting pitchers Taylor and Monbouquette.

Taylor broke up Monbouquette’s no-hit bid by poking an outside fastball to right for a single to lead off the sixth. The pitch “hit close to the end of his bat,” Monbouqette told the Boston Globe.

Monbouquette didn’t allow another hit until the 10th. In the 11th, Taylor singled to center with one out but was stranded.

When the Red Sox failed to score in the bottom half of the 11th, it extended to 20 their stretch of scoreless innings to start the season.

Mistake pitch

Yastrzemski led off the bottom of the 12th with a drive to deep center. “I thought I might have an inside-the-park homer,” Yastrzemski told the Boston Globe. “In fact, I thought the ball was going into the bleachers.”

The wind kept the ball in the park and center fielder Ty Cline got a glove on it but couldn’t make a catch. Yastrzemski reached third with a triple.

Looking to set up a forceout or induce a grounder for a double play, Taylor gave intentional walks to Frank Malzone and Russ Nixon, loading the bases with none out for Hardy.

“I was just hoping to hit a sacrifice fly,” Hardy said. “I figured Taylor was going to try to get me to hit the ball on the ground. I was looking for a low breaking ball away from the plate.”

Said Taylor: “I was trying to throw him a slider low and away.”

The pitch was belt high. Hardy swung and lofted the ball to left. It landed a foot over the wall for a grand slam and a 4-0 Red Sox triumph. Boxscore

The home run, the first for Hardy at Fenway Park since he joined the Red Sox two years earlier, “was covered with jewels and gold dust,’ wrote Harold Kaese in the Boston Globe.

Second careers

Taylor was 2-2 in eight appearances for the 1962 Indians before he was returned to the minors in May. After the season, the Indians traded Taylor to the Cardinals, who used him primarily in relief. Taylor had nine wins and 11 saves for the Cardinals in 1963, and eight wins and eight saves in 1964. He also got the save in Game 4 of the 1964 World Series. Boxscore

Taylor enrolled in medical school after his playing career, graduated in 1977 and became the team physician of the Blue Jays in 1979.

Hardy hit .215 with eight home runs for the 1962 Red Sox and was traded after the season to Houston.

After baseball, Hardy joined the front office of football’s Denver Broncos. In almost 25 years with them, Hardy served several roles, including director of scouting, director of player personnel and assistant general manager. Hardy died Aug. 9, 2020, at 87.

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Hub Kittle practiced what he preached to Cardinals pitching prospects.

Forty years ago, on Aug. 27, 1980, Kittle, a minor-league pitching instructor for the Cardinals, pitched an inning as the starter for their Springfield (Ill.) farm club.

Kittle, 63, became the only player to pitch in a professional game in both the 1930s and 1980s, a period spanning six different decades.

Baseball lifer

Kittle began his professional pitching career in the 1930s in the Cubs’ system. He pitched in the minors for several organizations. Though he had records of 18-8 for Ponca City, 20-10 for Yakima and 10-0 for Klamath Falls, Kittle never pitched in the big leagues.

He became a manager in the farm systems of the Phillies, Braves and Astros, and also managed clubs in the Dominican Republic during the winters. Among the pitchers he mentored was Joaquin Andujar.

Kittle finally reached the majors as an Astros coach from 1971-75. He joined the Cardinals in 1976 as a roving pitching instructor in the minors.

In 1977, Kittle managed the Cardinals’ St. Petersburg farm club to an 83-56 record. The team included future big-leaguers Leon Durham at first base and Tommy Herr at second, and a future agent, Scott Boras, at third.

Kittle returned to being a minor-league pitching instructor in 1978.

Mixing his pitches

Springfield manager Hal Lanier agreed to have Kittle pitch in a game for his team in 1980. Like Kittle, Hal Lanier’s father, Max Lanier, also began his professional pitching career in the 1930s. Unlike Kittle, Max Lanier became a starter for the Cardinals.

Hal Lanier chose to have Kittle start Springfield’s home game against Iowa, a White Sox farm club, on a Wednesday night near the end of the season. According to The Sporting News, Lanier decided before the game that Kittle would hurl the first inning and throw one pitch in the second before departing.

Kittle’s battery mate was Springfield catcher Jody Davis, who would go on to play for the Cubs and Braves. Davis, 23, was 40 years younger than his pitcher.

Demonstrating to Cardinals prospects he could show as well as tell, Kittle retired the side in order on 10 pitches in the first inning. Mark Naehring and Rusty Kuntz each flied out. Marv Foley grounded out to first. Kuntz and Foley had major-league experience.

Determined to pitch rather than throw, Kittle used a mix of a fastball, curve, forkball and changeup. “I wasn’t going to throw fastball, fastball, fastball,” Kittle told Larry Harnly of The Sporting News. “I’m not that dumb.”

Springfield scored a run in the bottom of the first against Iowa starter Ted Barnicle. The interlude on the bench took a toll on Kittle’s right arm. When he returned to the mound to make a final pitch and take a bow from the crowd of 1,400, “the ball felt like a ton of lead,” Kittle said.

Hector Eduardo replaced Kittle, who handed the ball to Lanier and strode into the dugout, where he was congratulated by the players.

“I enjoyed pitching so much you can’t believe it,” Kittle said. “When I walked off the mound, I got that choked up feeling. I thought I was going to cry.”

Iowa teed off against the Springfield relievers and won, 7-6.

After the season, Kittle was promoted to pitching coach on Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog’s major-league staff. He was Cardinals pitching coach for three seasons, including 1982, when St. Louis won the World Series championship.

After the 1983 season, Kittle asked to be reassigned because his wife was ill and he wanted the flexibility to spend more time with her. At 67, he returned to being a minor-league instructor.

 

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It didn’t take long for a Kentucky jury to determine a couple of Cardinals accused of doing wrong did right.

Thirty years ago, on Aug. 27, 1990, Cardinals pitcher Frank DiPino and catcher Tom Pagnozzi were found not guilty of misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct. The jury of three women and three men deliberated for 30 minutes before returning the verdicts.

Earlier in the day, a charge of disorderly conduct against Cardinals pitcher Greg Mathews was dismissed by the judge before the trial began.

DiPino, Pagnozzi and Mathews were arrested on May 19, 1990, in Covington, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, during a late-night altercation at a gas station.

The players said they were trying to help a woman who was assaulted, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Trouble in river city

The Cardinals were in Cincinnati in May 1990 to play a four-game series with the Reds at Riverfront Stadium.

On May 18, a Friday night, Mathews was the Cardinals’ starter and pitched eight scoreless innings, but the Reds won, 1-0, on Paul O’Neill’s home run versus Ken Dayley with two outs in the ninth. Boxscore

After the game, Mathews, DiPino and Pagnozzi went to The Waterfront, a floating restaurant tied to moorings at Pete Rose Pier in Covington. The high-end steak and seafood place had stunning views of the Cincinnati skyline, a lively bar scene and a 1980s “Miami Vice” vibe.

Late in the evening, Stacey Winn, 23, of Cincinnati and two friends offered to drive the three players from the restaurant to the team hotel, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

At about 2:30 a.m., they stopped at a Covington gas station. Winn got out of the vehicle and was near the restroom when she said a man approached, made a suggestive remark and shoved her to the ground, The Cincinnati Post reported.

Defense attorneys identified the man as an off-duty police officer from nearby Dayton, Ky.

DiPino and Pagnozzi saw what happened, and ran over to help Winn and confront the man.

Winn testified the man punched DiPino, the Associated Press reported. DiPino and Pagnozzi fought back.

Covington police officers arrived, said they saw DiPino and Pagnozzi throwing punches and arrested them, the Post-Dispatch reported. The man who Winn said assaulted her was not arrested.

DiPino and Pagnozzi were handcuffed and put into the back seat of a police car. Mathews was arrested when he opened the back door of the police car.

The three players were taken to jail and released on bail.

That night, Saturday, May 19, DiPino pitched in the Cardinals’ game versus the Reds, facing three batters in relief of starter John Tudor. Boxscore

The next afternoon, Sunday, May 20, Pagnozzi caught in the series finale and drove in the go-ahead run for the Cardinals in the seventh inning of a 6-2 victory. Boxscore

Law and order

A trial date in Kenton County district court was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 27, 1990, a scheduled off-day in Cincinnati for the Cardinals before they opened a two-game series with the Reds.

Prosecutor John Fortner offered DiPino, Pagnozzi and Mathews a plea agreement, but they rejected it, preferring a jury trial, the Post-Dispatch reported.

“We brought this to trial so the jury could find out that what we did was correct,” DiPino told the Associated Press. “I just reacted as I thought any man should. If I saw the same thing happening again, I’m sure I’d run over there again.”

If found guilty, each player faced a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of $250.

On the eve of the trial, Pagnozzi said to the Post-Dispatch, “Manager Joe Torre told me I’m catching Tuesday (Aug. 28) if I’m not in jail.”

Justice served

On the morning of the trial, Judge Steven Jaeger dismissed the charge against Mathews. The judge said Mathews shouldn’t have been charged with disorderly conduct for opening the door of the police car because his teammates were handcuffed and Mathews’ action didn’t pose a threat, the Post-Dispatch reported.

During the trial, none of the players testified. Nor did the alleged assailant, who had been suspended by the Dayton, Ky., police department, The Cincinnati Post reported.

Defense attorney James Kidney of Newport, Ky., relied on the testimony of Stacey Winn to convince the jury the players came to her rescue and then defended themselves against the man who assaulted her.

After the jury returned its verdicts, Pagnozzi told the Associated Press, “We believed we were not guilty the whole time. I tried to do the right thing. We felt we did do the right thing.”

DiPino told the Post-Dispatch, “We believe what we did was right and we stuck to our guns.”

One of the women jurors, Pat Perry, told The Cincinnati Post, “We just did not feel they started it. They were only helping the girl. We all hoped if we were in the same position they would come to our aid.”

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Cardinals cleanup hitter Pedro Guerrero resorted to using his hands, not his bat, to connect against Astros pitcher Danny Darwin.

Thirty years ago, on Aug. 16, 1990, during a game between the Astros and Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Guerrero got upset with Darwin for throwing a pitch too close to him.

When Darwin reached first base on a single, he and Guerrero argued and Guerrero struck him.

Feeling frustrated

With the Astros ahead, 3-1, in the sixth inning, the Cardinals had runners on second and third, two outs, and Guerrero at the plate. Darwin threw a fastball that was “head high, but looked to be over the inside corner of the plate,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Guerrero said he thought the pitch was intended to hit him, but plate umpire Mark Hirschbeck told the Post-Dispatch, “It was not even close.”

After Guerrero struck out, stranding the runners, he glared at Darwin. “He was just looking to start something,” Hirschbeck said. “He was yelling, ‘I’m going to get you.’ ”

Said Darwin: “I don’t appreciate the look he gave me.”

Sticks and stones

The hard feelings carried over to the next inning.

With two outs and none on in the seventh, Darwin singled versus reliever Scott Terry. Standing at first base, Darwin and Guerrero jabbered at one another.

According to Guerrero, “When he got to first base, I said, ‘Hey, man, what’s wrong? Can’t anybody look at you?’ ”

According to Darwin, “When I got to first base, Guerrero said, ‘What’s your problem?’ I said, ‘What’s my problem? You mean I can’t pitch inside?’ He said, ‘I know you’re going to pitch inside.’ I said, ‘Then why’d you give me that look?’ ”

Guerrero said Darwin “pointed a finger in my face” and started cussing at him. Umpire Bob Davidson said both players were cussing at one another.

Davidson stepped between the two, but Guerrero reached around and hit Darwin, the Post-Dispatch reported. Video at 4:28 mark

Both benches emptied. Guerrero and Darwin were ejected, and Astros manager Art Howe also was tossed for arguing with the umpires.

In a corridor leading to the clubhouse, Guerrero and Astros coach Ed Ott shouted at each another before police arrived and separated them, the Post-Dispatch reported. Boxscore

Guerrero said he offered to fight Darwin anywhere he wanted to meet. “I’m not afraid of anybody,” Guerrero said.

Darwin said, “He’s a cheap-shot artist. I think he’s gutless. If he thinks he can intimidate me, he’s crazy. I’ve hit guys a lot meaner than him.”

Play ball

In remarks to Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon, Guerrero said Astros pitchers threw at him in a series at Houston, and he needed to put a stop to it when Darwin pitched him high and tight at St. Louis.

Guerrero may have been brushed back by the 1990 Astros but he wasn’t hit. Guerrero got plunked once in 1990 and it happened in September when he was struck on the right forearm by a pitch from the Phillies’ Jose DeJesus.

On Aug. 26, 1990, 10 days after his altercation with Guerrero, Darwin again started against the Cardinals at Houston and got a complete-game win. Guerrero wasn’t there for a rematch. He was on the disabled list because of a strained lower back. Boxscore

Guerrero batted .333 (8-for-24) versus Darwin in his career and never was hit by a pitch from him.

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In the longest outing of his Cardinals career, Bob Gibson set a record that illustrated his consistency, dominance and endurance.

Fifty years ago, on Aug. 12, 1970, Gibson pitched 14 innings for a complete-game win in the Cardinals’ 5-4 victory over the Padres at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis.

In the second inning, Gibson got his 200th strikeout of the season when he fanned Nate Colbert. Gibson, 34, became the first major-league pitcher to strike out 200 batters in a season eight times. Before then, he shared the mark of seven 200-strikeout seasons with Rube Waddell and Walter Johnson.

Gibson’s 14-inning stint versus the Padres surpassed a pair of 13-inning complete games he pitched against the Giants on July 7, 1965, Boxscore and on July 25, 1969. Boxscore

Wobbly warm-up

Before his Wednesday night start against the last-place Padres, Gibson didn’t throw well in the bullpen. “I wouldn’t have given two cents that he’d go nine innings,” manager Red Schoendienst told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Though he lacked command of his pitches, Gibson retired the first nine batters in a row, including four on strikeouts. “I was lucky in the early innings that they were swinging,” Gibson told the Associated Press. “A lot of the strikeout total has to do with the ball club you’re facing.”

The Padres scored a run in the fourth and three in the sixth. Colbert, a St. Louis native, put the Padres ahead, 4-3, in the sixth with a two-run home run that landed 10 rows up in the seats in left.

“I was hitting the corners, but I hung some pitches, too,” Gibson told the Post-Dispatch.

The Cardinals tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth on Richie Allen’s home run versus starter Danny Coombs.

Carrying on

Gibson held the Padres scoreless over the last eight innings.

He worked out of a jam in the 11th. After the Padres loaded the bases with one out, Gibson’s former teammate, Ed Spiezio, batted. With the count 3-and-2, Gibson got Spiezio to ground into a double play.

“Gibson didn’t have his real good stuff, but you could see him reach back for something extra in that spot,” said Padres manager Preston Gomez.

In the 13th, Gibson struck out the side. After pitching the 14th, Gibson was ready to come out if the Cardinals didn’t score in the bottom half of the inning.

“That was my last inning whether we won it then or not,” Gibson said. “Red Schoendienst and I had talked it over and decided the 14th would be it.”

Ron Willis, a former Cardinal, was the Padres’ pitcher in the 14th. Willis had held the Cardinals hitless in the 12th and 13th.

Dal Maxvill, who batted .201 for the season, led off the Cardinals’ half of the 14th with his fourth consecutive hit, a single. Gibson, who hit .303 in 1970, was allowed to bat. He bunted and reached safely on a fielder’s choice, with Maxvill advancing to second. Lou Brock’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, and Leron Lee got an intentional walk, loading the bases.

The next batter, Carl Taylor, worked a walk, scoring Maxvill from third with the decisive run and giving Gibson his hard-earned win. Boxscore

Wins matter most

Gibson gave up 13 hits and struck out 13.

Asked about becoming the first to achieve eight 200-strikeout seasons, Gibson told the Post-Dispatch, “I’m pleased to have the record. It shows I was a consistent pitcher over the years. Winning games is the big thing, though.”

Gibson threw 178 pitches in the marathon against the Padres, but said, “I don’t care about the number of pitches. You can throw 90 pitches and lose.”

The win gave Gibson a 16-5 record for the season. He went on to finish at 23-7 with 274 strikeouts, earning his second National League Cy Young Award. The 23 wins and 274 strikeouts were his single-season career highs. No other Cardinals pitcher has achieved as many strikeouts in a season as Gibson did.

Gibson had a ninth season of 200 strikeouts when he fanned 208 batters in 1972. His 3,117 career strikeouts, as well as his 251 career wins, are most by a Cardinals pitcher.

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The Cardinals were the opponent when Bob Sebra saved his spot in the Expos’ rotation, and again when he fulfilled a boyhood dream with the Phillies. Near the end of his career, Sebra pitched in the Cardinals’ system.

A right-hander who spent six years in the majors with the Rangers (1985), Expos (1986-87), Phillies (1988-89), Reds (1989) and Brewers (1990), Sebra died July 22, 2020, at 58.

Sebra, who had a career record of 15-29 in the majors, was 3-2 against the Cardinals. He had more wins versus the Cardinals than he did against any other foe.

In 1993, hoping for a chance to get back to the majors, Sebra signed with the Cardinals and spent the season as a starter for their Class AAA Louisville team.

Going the distance

As a youth in southern New Jersey, Sebra was a Phillies fan, attended their games at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and hoped to pitch for them. He played collegiate baseball for the University of Nebraska, but it was the Rangers, not the Phillies, who selected him in the fifth round of the 1983 amateur draft.

Sebra made his big-league debut with the Rangers on June 26, 1985, in a start against the Mariners. After the season, he was traded to the Expos for slugger Pete Incaviglia.

On Aug. 12, 1986, Sebra pitched his first complete game in the majors in the Expos’ 10-3 victory over the Cardinals at Montreal. Sebra also produced two hits and a walk. His first major-league hit, a single versus John Tudor, sparked a seven-run inning. Boxscore

In control

In 1987, Sebra was an Expos starter, but he lost eight of his first 11 decisions, including four in a row, and was in danger of being dropped from the rotation.

On June 26, 1987, two years to the day after he made his debut in the majors, Sebra started against the Cardinals at Montreal, looking to show the Expos they should stick with him. Sebra was matched against Cardinals rookie Joe Magrane, who won his first five decisions and was undefeated in the big leagues.

Locating his breaking pitches, Sebra held the Cardinals to six hits, walked none and struck out 10 in nine innings, earning the win in a 5-1 Expos victory. Boxscore

When Sebra throws breaking balls for strikes “it makes his fastball so much more effective,” Expos pitching coach Larry Bearnarth told the Montreal Gazette.

After Terry Pendleton singled with two outs in the fourth, Sebra retired the next 13 batters in a row. Cardinals cleanup hitter Jack Clark struck out three times and grounded into a game-ending double play.

“He was kind of like a right-handed Fernando Valenzuela,” Clark said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He had everything.”

Said Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog: “I don’t think anybody would have beaten that guy tonight. He had control.”

Sebra also had a single in the fifth, igniting a three-run inning.

The Cardinals went on to win the 1987 National League pennant. Sebra finished the season with a 6-15 record.

Rooting interest

In 1988, the Expos demoted Sebra to the minors. Pitching on a staff with prospect Randy Johnson, Sebra was 12-6 with a 2.94 ERA for Class AAA Indianapolis.

On Sept. 1, 1988, the Expos traded Sebra to the Phillies. Two weeks later, Sebra got his first win for the team he followed as a youth, beating the Cardinals at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. It was Sebra’s first win in the majors since July 12, 1987, with the Expos, and ended a streak of eight consecutive losses for him in the big leagues. Boxscore

Sebra allowed five walks and four hits, but just two runs, in five innings against the Cardinals. “It was ugly,” he told the Philadelphia Daily News.

Said Lee Elia, manager of the last-place Phillies: “Getting this win was probably more important for him than it was for us. It gives him a sense of accomplishment.”

Down on the farm

Four years later, while in the minor leagues in 1992, Sebra had surgery on his right elbow. The Cardinals signed him to a minor-league contract in January 1993 and assigned him to Louisville.

Sebra was a consistent starter for Louisville, even though he felt persistent pain in his right arm. In the clubhouse, Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Pat Forde observed Sebra had 14 stainless steel acupuncture needles embedded in his right arm in an effort to relieve the pain.

“I had a friend in Omaha who studied acupuncture in China,” Sebra explained. “He said to do it for 10 days and see what happens. It’s feeling real good.”

Sebra, 31, led the Louisville staff in starts (26) and innings pitched (145) and tied with Tom Urbani for the team lead in wins (nine), but he didn’t get back to the majors.

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