Back in late March, I wrote about Brian Anderson and his failed comeback to the big leagues. I also expressed how much I appreciate some of the lesser known players that don't get the publicity the superstars do.
One in particular was Jody Gerut, who was a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate back in 2003 with the Cleveland Indians.
This is the story of Jody Gerut and his long road to get back to where he is now. Hopefully it doesn't end like Brain Anderson's did.
Gerut is a native of Elmhurst, Illinois, and he played his college ball for Stanford. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Colorado Rockies and later traded to Cleveland with current Padres' teammate, Josh Bard, for Jacob Cruz.
At the time, it looked like another great deal for Mark Shapiro. Gerut came up in 2003 and was quickly establishing himself as a mainstay for a rebuilding Tribe team and Bard was etched in as the starting catcher.
Gerut hit 22 home runs his rookie year, knocked in 75 runs, and scored 66 times. He was no stranger to flashing the leather either.
His 2004 season was a bit of a dip, as his average dropped from .279 to .252. He hit half the amount of home runs he did the previous year and knocked in 24 less runs.
However, he stole more bases, scored more runs and showed improvement in other areas of the game. He struck out less and walked more than his rookie year, and he was a constant supplier of highlight reel catches.
His 2004 came crashing to an end though, as he tore his ACL trying to field what would be an inside the park home run from Kansas City's David DeJesus.
Gerut had to battle his way back into the lineup and the team. The Grady Sizemore revolution was getting started, Coco Crisp was showing his staying power and the young Indians were starting to grow.
Jody played in only 44 games for the Indians, hitting a single home run and knocking in 12 runs. He was traded on July 18th to his home-state and the Chicago Cubs for Jason Dubois.
Just a little under two weeks later at the trading deadline, Gerut was dealt again. This time it was for former Indians' teammate Matt Lawton to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Gerut got just one hit in his 14 at bats with the Cubs, and then played in just four games after going to Pittsburgh.
Things were not looking good for the standout from Stanford. The only Tribe player able to spell the last name "Teixeira" correctly for an Indians stadium segment, had to go on the disabled list to end the year.
That right knee was flaring up again, and when all was said and done, his time with the Pirates wasn't very positive. He had disputes with the club about his injuries and playing for their Triple A club.
He was a Rookie of the Year contender, on his way up, what could he possibly accomplish in Triple A for the Pittsburgh Pirates?
It all came to an end on March 8th of last year, when the Pirates outright released him.
Gerut disappeared for an entire year.
He resurfaced with San Diego as a spring training invitee after he dominated a Venezuelen Winter League.
With injuries to Jim Edmonds and Brian Giles, and the overall lack of outfielders that the Padres had, Gerut had a realistic shot to make the opening day roster.
That he did, beating out the likes of Paul McAnulty and Jeff DaVanon. But Gerut's time with the club was short, and he got sent down to Triple A Portland to make room for Edmonds.
Gerut lit it up in Portland, hitting .308 with five home runs, 18 runs batted in, and four stolen bases. With Jim Edmonds not working out for the Padres, soon it would be Jody’s time to shine.
Not only did he get called up a little bit over a month after his demotion, but he got the starting spot in center field and eventually started hitting lead-off.
That brings us to Monday night against the Chicago Cubs. It was that team that didn't even give him two weeks before they gave up on him.
Crack... It was the fifth inning, Carlos Zambrano was pitching, and the ball he threw to Gerut ended up on the streets of Chicago.
Joseph Diego Gerut is back, and he went 2-3 in the game, walked two more times and at the time his home run put the Padres on top 2-1.
They did end up losing 12-3, but imagine the monkey that was dumped off Jody Gerut with one swing.
Three years of frustration, gone in one swing.
Gerut is still only 30-years-old and he has plenty of baseball left in him, even with the knee problems. He stole one base in his first stint with San Diego and then four more down in Portland.
He can still run, and he can still hit.
So, let's hope this story doesn't end here. I'm pretty sure it won't.
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