David Robertson's Journey from the Olympics to the Rays' Postseason Roster

BOSTON — The pitching arm is very hard. You’ll’t simply forget about it and be expecting it to paintings when you wish to have it. Fortunately, regardless that, it isn’t choosy. Simply ask David Robertson.

Ten weeks earlier than he returned to the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays to stand the Boston Purple Sox, Robertson wanted someplace to pitch. It was once overdue June and he had already helped the USA Olympic staff qualify for the Tokyo Video games. However the world event was once weeks away, and Robertson’s arm was once begging for pageant.

So Robertson suited up for an newbie males’s league staff at Cardines Box in Newport, R.I., no longer a long way from his house in Barrington. He pitched two innings however does no longer bear in mind the title of his staff.

“I needed to give my jersey again; I didn’t wish to take it from ’em as a result of I wasn’t coming again,” Robertson mentioned on Sunday, earlier than a quite higher-profile recreation at Fenway Park. “I understand it was once the Sundown League, regardless that, and I used to be for sure the oldest man.”

For the document, Robertson pitched for Westcott Houses towards R&R Building. Sooner than lengthy he was once in Tokyo, incomes two saves and returning with a silver medal, and from there it was once onto the Durham Bulls, the Rays’ Magnificence AAA associate.

And now, after a September call-up, Robertson is again within the postseason for the 7th time. Robertson, a right-hander, has pitched in all 3 video games of this American League department sequence towards the Purple Sox, permitting no runs in 4 innings, together with two in Sunday’s 6-Four loss in 13 innings. The Purple Sox lead the best-of-five sequence, two video games to 1, with Recreation Four scheduled for Monday evening in Boston.

“Robbie has been there and achieved all of it,” mentioned Rays Supervisor Kevin Money, who stuck Robertson for the Yankees’ International Sequence identify staff in 2009. “He’s pitched at the greatest level, greatest moments. I feel his veteran wisdom of easy methods to navigate via difficult instances and difficult venues has been a large receive advantages to our whole roster.”

Robertson, 36, isn’t the Rays’ oldest participant — designated hitter Nelson Cruz is 41 — however he’s the oldest pitcher. He reached the majors with the Yankees in 2008, and two years later started a streak of 9 seasons with a minimum of 60 appearances.

Then his arm betrayed him. In his first month of a two-year, $23 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, Robertson tore his flexor tendon and ulnar collateral ligament. His restoration went smartly, he mentioned, till the pandemic sidetracked his regimen, surroundings him again and costing him the abbreviated 2020 season. The Phillies declined his membership possibility for 2021.

Robertson dispose of signing with a staff till after the Olympics, the place he closed out victories towards South Korea and the Dominican Republic and in addition pitched towards Japan, which gained gold. Enjoying earlier than no lovers, he were given a style of the surreal main league revel in he had ignored in 2020.

“It was once an enchanting go back and forth, put it that method — simply an enormous stadium with no person in there and it’s worthwhile to listen the whole lot,” Robertson mentioned. “They have been very rushed video games, on account of the time constraints that they had between innings. But it surely was once superior.”

Robertson selected the Rays, he mentioned, on account of his familiarity with the Tampa space and the A.L. East. He additionally knew the Rays had some accidents of their bullpen and concept he may slide simply right into a late-inning function.

A lot of the Rays’ luck, regardless that, comes from embracing the novel. That they had 14 other pitchers with a save this season, surroundings a big league document, and their relievers know to be able always. (On Sunday they used Andrew Kittredge, their simplest All-Celebrity reliever this season, to stifle a rally within the 3rd inning.)

Robertson, because it became out, was once up for anything else.

“Within the preliminary interview, he’s like, ‘No matter, I’m just right, 3 innings, no drawback,’” mentioned Rays pitching trainer Kyle Snyder, who additionally let Robertson get started a recreation. “You must get some guys who are available right here, a minimum of midway from a prior era, that don’t essentially purchase into this.

“I do know from an trade perspective, what we do is checked out just a little bit severely. However we’re simply doing what we do. We will’t trip that very same wave everyone else does; we will be able to’t spend the cash they are able to. We need to work out techniques to maximise our roster.”

In many ways, in fact, the Rays are a bothered franchise. With chronically deficient attendance, they have got been pushing for a doubtful dual-city plan wherein they might play part their house video games in Montreal. Their consistently low payroll — simply $83 million for the 40-man roster this yr, in keeping with Baseball Prospectus — offers them the liberty to experiment with most commonly cheap gamers simply glad to have the danger.

Their luck gifts a subject matter for the gamers as a complete. By way of proving they are able to win with a low price range (the Rays have had the finest document within the A.L. in each and every of the final two seasons) are the Rays diminishing the incomes price of gamers?

Robertson, as a former participant consultant to the Primary League Baseball Gamers Affiliation, mentioned he was once no longer involved.

“It all the time irons itself the place the union and the M.L.B.P.A. come to an settlement the place guys will be capable of get extra of a proportion in their marketplace price,” he mentioned. “That is extra of a place the place guys can are available, work out what they’re doing after which they may depart right here as a result of they’re incomes an excessive amount of to stick in this roster.”

Whilst they’re in combination, regardless that, the Rays appear to grasp they’re a part of an ever-evolving experiment in easy methods to construct a winner. It does no longer all the time paintings; a pitching workforce inspired to replenish the strike zone is on occasion hit onerous, because the Rays had been since their shutout within the opener of this sequence.

However their postseason presence is a testomony to their ingenuity. The Rays will glance any place for a participant who may lend a hand, even though he pitched towards R&R Building on his winding trail to October.

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