The Yankees are looking to win their fourth series in five tries today, and for the second straight weekend they’ll try to do that with CC Sabathia on the mound on Sunday night. But that’s not the interesting part, the opposing starter is. You might remember Alexi Ogando from his relief appearances against the Yankees last year, both in the regular season and in the ALCS. Well he’s a starter now, and so far he’s allowed just four hits and no runs in two starts totaling 13 innings. That’s amazing enough, but listen to his back story.
The Athletics first signed Ogando as a 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic way back in 2002. He was an outfielder back then, and he actually played pretty well in Rookie and Low-A ball: .297/.357/.482 with 14 homers and nine steals in 431 plate appearances. The Rangers then grabbed him in the Double-A phase of the 2005 Rule 5 Draft and turned him into a pitcher despite the hitting performance. However, Ogando never made it to Spring Training in 2006. He got busted as part of a human trafficking ring in the DR, in which players were marrying women to help get them a visa and into the United States. Ogando admitted his involvement and was denied a visa for the season.
So instead of coming to the States, he pitched in the Dominican Summer League and worked on the conversion to pitching. Although he was originally told that he would be granted a visa after a year, he was banned from coming to the United States for the next four years as well. All he could do was pitch in the DSL and international tournaments during that time, his prime development years. Ogando was finally granted a visa last February, so the Rangers sent him right to Double-A and he ended the season in the big leagues. That’s slightly more interesting than your typical “climbing the ladder” story, no?
Anyway, here’s tonight’s lineup…
CC Sabathia, SP
Alex Rodriguez is out with that stiff back/oblique, and since they have the day off tomorrow, he’ll get two full days of rest. Like I said yesterday, better one game now than a whole bunch later. ESPN has the broadcast; first pitch will come a little after 8pm ET, so enjoy the game.
Rotation Note: Bartolo Colon will start on Wednesday, so he’s essentially replacing Phil Hughes in the rotation and the Yankees are keeping everyone on turn. They could have skipped some people if they wanted thanks to a pair of off-days next week.