Gagne works out for Rockies' brass
Former All-Star closer hoping for return to big leagues
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Former All-Star closer Eric Gagne made what he hopes was a productive day trip on Tuesday.Gagne, a free agent who didn't pitch in the Majors last season and has battled shoulder issues the last two years he was active, drove from his suburban Phoenix home to throw at Hi Corbett Field in front of several key Rockies -- manager Jim Tracy, general manager Dan O'Dowd assistant GM Bill Geivett and professional scout Mike Paul.
Gagne, 34, was baseball's dominant closer from 2002-04 with the Dodgers, when his 152 saves included a record 84 consecutive converted opportunities. Tracy was his manager during that time. Also, as the Dodgers' assistant GM in 1999, Geivett spearheaded the decision to promote Gagne from Double-A to the Majors.With Spring Training opening this week, Gagne is hoping to land at least a Minor League contract. He said he has worked out for the Phillies, Dodgers and a couple of other teams. "I basically called them up and said I'm ready," Gagne said. "I want to find a place to play and see if you guys give me a shot." Gagne's last productive period consisted of 34 games with the Rangers at the start of 2007, when he posted 16 saves, a 2-0 record and a 2.16 ERA. But toward the end of that time, he suffered right shoulder soreness. Traded to the Red Sox, he went 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 20 appearances the rest of that season while pitching in pain. The following season with the Brewers, he went 4-3 with a 5.44 ERA and 10 saves in 50 games. Gagne said he was pitching with a slight tear of a muscle. On the advice of Dr. Lewis Yocum, a noted sports surgeon, Gagne elected to rehab the injury over having it surgically repaired, since surgery was an uncertainty and would have cost him too much time at his age. Last season, Gagne pitched as a starter in the Can-Am League and posted a 4.65 ERA in 102 2/3 innings to build arm strength. He is hoping to pitch out of a team's bullpen this season. On Tuesday, Gagne looked noticeably lighter than when he was last seen in a Major League uniform. Partly to rebuild the small shoulder muscles and partly to avoid some of the back pain that affected him in recent years, Gagne took up Ja Shin Do, a mixed-martial-arts-based workout in an extremely hot room, taught by Scottsdale grandmaster Andy Bauman. Former Rockies pitchers Shawn Estes (now with the Nationals) and Jeff Fasero and Dodgers catcher Russell Martin undergo similar workouts. The result, Gagne said, is he is in better condition and his arm is "the best it's felt in three or four years, easy." It isn't clear whether Tuesday's workout will result in a contract offer. "I have no expectation," he said. "I told them I can help this team. I'm healthy right now. If they think it's good enough, that's good."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.