Thursday marked the end of the Los Angeles Dodgers' experiments with a pair of Ortiz veterans, and possibly the end of Ramon Ortiz's major league career.
The Dodgers surprised experts and fans alike at the beginning of spring training with the news they had invited Russ and Ramon Ortiz (no relation) to camp with a decent shot at making the roster. True to their word, both veterans found their way to the big league club after decent spring campaigns.
However, it wasn't long before Russ Ortiz showed signs of struggle. In six appearances, Russ allowed eight runs over just seven innings.
As mainstay pitchers Ronald Belisario and Hong-Chih Kuo came back from visa issues and injuries, respectively, Russ Ortiz found himself sitting with one cheek off a crowded bullpen bench.
He was designated for assignment on April 18, while carrying a 10.29 ERA on his back. Russ has yet to find a job since being dispatched, and it is likely if he is not signed by the All-Star break, he will call it a career.
Now, just over a month after Russ' departure, Ramon is facing a very similar fate. With the economy effecting every aspect of the job market, including roster spots on major league clubs, the future is bleak for the veteran righty.
Ramon has a career record of 85-82 with a 4.93 ERA. A career reliever by most respects, Ortiz has 274 games under his belt, spanning nearly 1,400 innings. His contributions for the Anaheim Angels in 2002 earned him a World Series ring.
Replaced by a younger and cheaper option, Justin Miller, Ramon lies in limbo for another eight days. When a player is designated for assignment, it means he has ten days to be traded to another club. The likelihood of this happening is slim for Ortiz. There are few teams that would willingly gamble on a fading career while giving up a prospect or position player.
If the player hasn't been claimed after the 10 day period, the choices become even more dim. Ramon can accept a minor league assignment, or be released on waivers. If released, it will most likely mark the end of a decent career, and it is possible fans will see Ramon in a coaching position in the near future.
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