I didn’t think I would make this a full post but it’ll be a brief one since I think I’m the only blogger blogging about it now.
Thanks to Mark Polishuk at MLB Trade Rumours for spotting and reporting it, but the New York Mets announced (via their Twitter account) this afternoon that relief pitcher Joel Carreno has been signed to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.
Carreno has been a favourite of mine this year and I was hoping to be the person who saw his return to the major leagues with the Blue Jays in 2014 coming. Unfortunately, he won’t be doing it with the Blue Jays.
Why was I so high on Carreno? Well, I noticed him first in Spring Training, when he was a little, um . . . heavy. He was pitching effectively in a minor league game that I watched at the Phillies complex in Clearwater but a scout I talked to noticed that he had put on some weight. He started off the year doing really well though, dominating the competition in New Hampshire, eventually earning a promotion to Buffalo where he continued to be one of the real strong relief pitchers.
I brought Carreno up in a conversation I had with New Hampshire pitching coach Tom Signore and he was very complimentary. He remarked how Carreno, who wasn’t happy about being sent to New Hampshire to start the year, focused on getting in shape and worked hard. This is what Signore had to say:
“It’s more than physical: the first thing he did was got himself in much better physical condition. He would go out early and run from April 4th the day we got here to the time he was called up to Buffalo. So that was the first thing he did and the smartest thing he did was got in much better shape. Then he started using his fastball more. You know, he’s played in the big leagues. People know him as “well he’s got that slider, got that slider,” well, he almost pitched backwards here. He was freezing hitters with his fastball late in the count rather than get them out with his slider. So now he’s got better command of his fastball and still has that put-away slider. And he throws it at different speeds, he’s got very good feel. It was a nice thing to see. He was a little down coming here at the beginning of the season. He though people quit on him, but I don’t think anybody’s quit on him. He’s a guy that they can call up in an emergency right now and say, you know, we need you in the bullpen. And the great thing is he’s been there, the atmosphere isn’t gonna get to him and again, another guy that’s earned – in this game, they don’t really give ya anything, you earn it – and another guy who’s earned a chance.”
If you read my last post about relievers, you would have seen that I was hoping that the Jays would resign Carreno and give him an opportunity at the major league level. He had a great 2011, putting outstanding numbers in only about 15 innings. He came back in 2012 and really didn’t do well either in Toronto or in Las Vegas. I thought 2013 was a real turning point and, with a good spring, Carreno could make the bullpen in Queen’s.