Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Josh Wilson may be the Devil Rays' best reliever

In case you missed it, Tampa Bay may have found the solution to its middle relief option on Friday night. After three relievers .combined to allow eight earned runs in two innings, the Rays turned to shortstop Josh Wilson.

Although he hadn't pitched since high school, Wilson preformed somewhat effectively. He allowed a broken-bat single, a walk, and hit the backstop with a pitch, but didn't allow a run.

The Dugout is particularly proud of Wilson's performance. He is yet another played featured in the book, The Funniest Thing I’ve Ever Seen: More than 100 crazy stories from minor league baseball, to have an impact in the majors this season.

And since you asked, (The Dugout can hear you all the may over here) the chapter that features Wilson is right here:

Did He Use Shampoo And Conditioner?

Some people seem to have little choice but to be baseball players. Carolina Mudcats outfielder Josh Wilson is among those players.

Wilson’s father Mike is the head baseball coach at Duquesne University. As a youth, Josh Wilson worked at a local batting cage, allowing him to hone his skills and get a little spending money.

The 21-year-old Wilson and the rest of his teammates still spend much of their time whacking baseballs around, and many could still use a little extra spending money.

“The biggest misconception is that a lot of people think minor league baseball players make a lot of money,” Wilson said. “That’s absolutely not the case with most players.”

Wilson figures that most players are “severely underpaid.” He points to the $100 million-plus contract signed by Alex Rodriguez and says people assume all ball players are making somewhere near that kind of money.

Even a modest bump in salary would help many minor leaguers live more comfortably.

“The off-field stuff would be a lot easier,” Wilson said. “The living situation would be a lot better. You could actually spend some money and get a nice place to live. Even buying food is a struggle for a lot of guys.”

The lack of significant income causes many young players to give up on the game and get started with “real life” – life after baseball. However, Wilson explains that money wasn’t the driving force behind John Skinner’s first retirement. Skinner had other issues while pitching in a 2001 Single-A game for the Kane County Cougars.

Josh Wilson: It was the last series before the playoffs and we were playing the Quad City River Bandits. [Skinner enters] in the sixth inning and gives up a whole bunch of runs. I think we were winning by like two or three runs. He ends up blowing the lead.

But he works through it and gets out of the inning. He’s so mad about how he pitched that he goes into the locker room and starts throwing everything, breaking everything in sight. He takes his uniform off, gets in the shower and starts showering up.

The inning had already gone on for a while. We end up coming back and scoring three or four runs, and have taken the lead again. One of our pitchers comes in and says, “Skinner, what are you doing?"

He says, “I’m done. I’m tired. I quit. I have had enough.”

He was like, “But Skinner, we just took the lead again. You’re going back in.”

So in the middle of the game he had showered and retired. Then he had to go back out and pitched through the inning. I guess he redeemed himself.

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