Eric Gagne takes next step in comeback attempt with World Baseball Classic appearance

Baseball News
2 years ago

The righty allowed one hit and zero earned runs in 2.1 innings against Colombia on Saturday.

MIAMI — Former NL Cy Young winner Eric Gagne was enthused by his first World Baseball Classic appearance after touching 95 mph and allowing only one hit in 2.1 innings of work in Canada’s 4-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday.

“I have expectations on velocity and I knew my body was great,” Gagne said Sunday. “To be on the mound pitching against MLB guys with all the adrenaline running…that’s really hard to re-create but it was great.”

Gagne, 41, is hoping to parlay his WBC experience into a job, making a major-league comeback after not pitching in the big leagues since 2008. Gagne has worked out privately for “a handful” of clubs, according to a major-league source, with the Padres being among the clubs known to be monitoring the ex-Dodger.

“Words are irrelevant at this point,” said agent Scott Leventhal, who is representing Gagne in his comeback attempt. “We are relying more so on what clubs see with their own eyes.”

Gagne, who last appeared in the majors with the Brewers in 2008, entered Saturday’s game with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning. After walking designated hitter Jhonathan Solano on five pitches, Gagne got centerfielder Tito Polo to fly out to right to end the inning before allowing only one hit while striking out two batters over two more innings.

“Coming in with the bases loaded was hard but I loved it,” Gagne said. “Great challenge and a good way to get right back at it.”

“He did a great job,” said Canada manager Ernie Whitt. “He was disappointed that he walked the first guy. And you go to the situation where a guy has the most experience, he’s been there before, he’s done it. And you never like to see him walk a run in, but then he bounced back and gave us some strong innings and kept us in the ballgame. And that’s all you ask of your pitchers: to keep us in the ballgame.”

Gagne is one of two 40-plus pitchers on Canada’s roster, joining starter Ryan Dempster. Both righties are serving as mentors for Canada’s young pitchers, including Saturday starter Nick Pivetta.

“You try to get as much information off those guys in such little time, and you try to have conversations with them,” said Pivetta, a minor-leaguer in the Phillies’ organization. “You try to learn from them, watch what they do, how they go about their business, and you want to have a career like them.”

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