It's been more than two decades since the New York Mets drafted a young right-hander by the name of Jason Isringhausen. Since that time, "Izzy" has almost 1,000 innings under his belt, with just under 300 saves. In 2011, Isringhausen, now 38, is back in Mets camp.
The Mets drafted Isringhausen in the 44th round of the 1991 draft. He, along with Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson, were pegged to become a three-headed pitching monster for the Mets in the mid-1990s. They were dubbed "Generation K."
They were to be the next Maddux-Smoltz-Glavine. They were supposed to be what Zito-Mulder-Hudson became.
But it never really panned out that way. Isringhausen had a wonderful rookie campaign as a starter in 1995, finishing with an 2.81 ERA and a 9-2 record in 14 starts. But, due to a rash of injuries, the wheels quickly fell off after that.
The following year, Izzy lost 14 games for the Mets while suffering through bone spurs and a torn rib cage muscle. He began the 1997 season in the minors and, in an act of rage, punched a trash can.
The trash can won, and he wound up with a broken wrist, which caused him to miss the majority of the that season. And in January 1998, he underwent reconstructive surgery on his right elbow and missed that entire season.
At the trade deadline in 1999, the Mets dealt the righty to Oakland, where his career really started to take off (a bit too late for Mets fans). He spent parts of three seasons as the A's closer, and then departed for St. Louis via free agency before the 2001 season.
As the Cardinals' stopper, Isringhausen was top-notch. In 2004, he led the league with 47 saves. Overall, he averaged 31 saves per season while in St. Louis. And for the most part, he was healthy (aside from a hip injury that caused him to miss the end of the 2006 season).
In all, he played seven seasons for the Cards, recording 217 saves, which is still good for best in team history.
Everything was looking good for the Illinois native. That is, until he missed the last month and a half of the 2008 season (his final season in St. Louis) with another elbow injury.
He was left to sign a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays for the 2009 season. But he was only able to play nine games for the Rays before undergoing his second Tommy John surgery, and has yet to throw a Major League pitch since.
But at 38 years of age, Isringhausen has returned to where it all began. The Mets gave him a minor league contract, and given the current state of the Mets bullpen, Isringhausen has a great chance of making the club out of spring training.
If he can remain healthy, he could wind up being a great find for the Queens team, as he looks to resurrect what was once a very promising career.