41-year-old Eric Gagne hasn’t appeared in a Major League Baseball game since September 2008 with the Milwaukee Brewers, but that isn’t stopping him from attempting to return to MLB.
Gagne has also been retired for six years after deciding to hang it up on April 18, 2010, but according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Gagne is working with Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers this spring in a guest pitching instructor role. Gurnick also notes that when Gagne isn’t working with Dodgers pitchers, he is throwing individual bullpen sessions.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres have also hosted throwing sessions with Gagne, who along with former MLB pitcher Ryan Dempster will pitch for Canada in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Gagne also says he is still hitting the 90’s with his fastball, and his change-up is still very deadly..
“I feel great,” said Gagne. “It’s almost scary.”
While with the Brewers in 2008, Gagne scuffled severely. He began the year as the Brewers closer under manager Ned Yost, but after blowing 3 saves in 6 attempts, Yost turned to Salmon Torres to be Milwaukee’s closer for the remainder of the season, sending Gagne into the main setup role.
Even then, Gagne will still experiencing the same struggles in his lesser role as the setup man, which caused him to lose that position in the Brewers bullpen to Guillermo Mota. Gagne was then downgraded to a middle relievers role, where the struggles continued and didn’t get better.
The Brewers still made the playoffs that season with a 90-72 mark for the first time since 1982 behind MVP caliber seasons from Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, while CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets helped lead the pitching staff to the National League’s Wild Card ahead of the New York Mets.
Gagne would appear in 2 of the Brewers 4 playoff games, and fair pretty well by not surrendering only one base runner in his limited workload. His 5.44 earned run average in 46.1 innings of work in the 2008 regular season is the last memory baseball fans have of the former dominant closer.
The former 3-time MLB All-Star Gagne was the National League’s Cy Young Award winner in 2003 with the Dodgers after he saved 55 games without blowing a single one. Those 55 saves help made up the longest saves streak in MLB history, as Gagne saved 84 straight games through 2002-2004.
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