Kelvim Escobar has not thrown a pitch in the Major Leagues since 2009. Escobar's right shoulder has had tears on at least two occasions. The Brewers, however, have signed the veteran righty to a minor league contract, and invited him to spring training.
In a growing trend amongst General Managers, Milwaukee's Gord Ash will try to find help on the cheap by bringing in a seemingly finished player attempting to make a comeback. The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves have employed similar strategies in the past two seasons, resurrecting Chris Young (twice) and Ben Shields respectively. In Escobar's case, the length of absence and path back are both a bit extreme.
A native of Venezuela, Escobar has spent this winter pitching for the Lara ball club in that country's Winter League. Brewers' scouting coordinator for Latin America, Manny Batista, has reported seeing the ex-Blue jay and Angel reach velocities "as high as the mid-90's again", according to Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. In six appearances, including two starts with Lara ( he has both started and relieved in the American League), Escobar was 0-0
with a 1.64 earned run average, with nine hits, nine walks and eight
strikeouts in 11 innings.
Ash, who was GM in Toronto during Escobar's time there, talks about the Brewers latest move. "He expressed an interest in pitching again and we were quick to make an offer. He'll get plenty of opportunity in the bullpen and we'll see what he can
do," said Ash. "He has done both (starting and relieving) and done them
well, but I always thought he was dominant out of the bullpen."
The 6'1", 205 lb. right-hander came to the Majors in 1997 with Toronto, saving 14 games in 27 appearances. He recorded a career high 38 saves in 2002, after having split time as starter and reliever the four previous seasons. Now 36 years old, Escobar joined the Anaheim staff after the 2003 season as a full time starter. His best numbers came in 2007, when he went 18-7 and compiled a 4.7 WAR rating.
It was after that campaign that the shoulder began breaking down, causing him to miss 2008 entirely. After some time in the minors in '09, he managed just one start in June before the shoulder broke down again, requiring surgery.
Escobar tried to make a comeback once before this, specifically with the 2010 New York Mets. Unfortunately, he tore the capsule in his right shoulder and was released before ever appearing in a NY uniform.
Kelvim brings a 101-91 career record with him to Milwaukee, where Ash says he will be used strictly in relief.
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