January 2 – Happy Birthday Scott Proctor
Joe Torre did a lot of things when he managed the New York Yankees but one of the things he did most often, especially during his final two seasons in the Bronx, was summon Scott Proctor from the bullpen to pitch. In 2006, the right hander led the AL in appearances with 83 and probably would have led it again the following season if he hadn’t been traded to the Dodgers for Wilson Betamit in July of 2007.
It is probably fair to say that most Yankee fans didn’t love Proctor but most of us admired him. Born in Stuart, FL on today’s date in 1977, he was drafted by the Dodgers out of Florida State University, in the fifth round of the MLB amateur draft in 1998. The Los Angeles organization wasn’t sure if the former Seminole should start or relieve so he spent most of his Dodger minor league years switching back and forth between roles. Then in July of 2003, the Dodgers traded him and outfielder Bubba Crosby to New York for Robin Ventura. He began his big league career in pinstripes the following season and gradually grew into the role of Torre’s workhorse. According to New York Times baseball correspondent, Tyler Kepner, Torre ruined Proctor’s pitching arm by overusing him in 2006 and ’07. Ironically, after Scott was traded to LA in 2007, Torre took over as skipper there the following year and again wasn’t shy about using him. Proctor ended up blowing out his elbow and missed the entire 2009 season. After reconstructive surgery, he reappeared briefly last season with the Braves. The pitcher does not hold Torre or the Yankees accountable for his arm injury. He blames drinking as the reason he the Yankees got rid of him. Proctor is a recovering alcoholic who credits Yankee closer Mariano Rivera with getting him to confront his demon. Another great save by Rivera.
Update: Proctor got a second chance to pitch for New York in September of 2011 but was unfortunately, bloody awful. In eight games out of the bullpen he went 0-3 with no saves and an ERA of 9.00. He was the losing pitcher in the September 28th game against Tampa on what turned out to be one of the most exciting days in baseball history. Evan Longoria’s 12th inning home run against Proctor that day capped an amazing come-from behind victory for Tampa. Moments later, Baltimore’s Robert Andino’s single off of Joanathan Papelbon in the bottom of the ninth drove in the winning run and the Soxplosion of 2011 was complete.