Last week's Independent Baseball Insider column was barely out the door last week when I learned Independent veteran Ken Ray was back in the major leagues for the first time since 1999, this time with the Atlanta Braves. The column (prospective subscribers may read it later today at (www.WirzandAssociates.com) was about the former Independent players who opened the season in the major leagues, plus the heart-breaking tale of Chris Coste, who did not stick with Philadelphia despite a brilliant spring.
Less than a year ago the 31-year-old righthander was pitching in the Can-Am League, making three starts for the North Shore Spirit (2-0, 2.75, with opponents hitting .143). He also had pitched in the Western League and the Atlantic League (Long Island) in 2002.
What a splash Ray has made. He made his Braves debut Thursday with two scoreless innings at San Francisco, including striking out his first batter. Some guy named Barry Bonds. He was Bobby Cox's eighth inning guy Monday night, working a scoreless eighth inning to protect a 4-3 lead before 47,332 in Atlanta's home opener. The Braves won, 5-3.
Cox has called on Ray four times in the five days he has been with the team. He has two "holds" and in four innings has allowed one hit, walked two and struck out four.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
KEN RAY MAKES A SPLASH
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.