5 players you probably didn't know were still playing baseball in the Winter Leagues
It's true -- the Major League Baseball season is over. It's been that way for more than a month. But don't fret, ardent baseball fanatics, there is still baseball being played (and we're not just talking about Sean Doolittle doing sock throws against his couch).
There are the Winter Leagues -- both in the Caribbean and Australia. You'll find some established big league names like Hanley Ramirez getting in their offseason workouts, but you'll also find a treasure trove of names you haven't heard in a long time. Guys you thought had given up the game, guys you thought only existed in your memories. Here are five former MLBers that have been toiling their trade this winter.
Endy Chavez, Navegantes del Magallanes. Last MLB appearance: 2014
Fresh off winning the Atlantic League batting title last season with a .345 average, the 38-year-old Chavez is patrolling the outfield in his native Venezuela this winter. He has two homers and seven RBIs in 36 at-bats. No word on how is defense is holding up, though.
Rafael Soriano, Tigres del Licey. Last MLB appearance: 2015
Soriano, who announced he had retired in 2015, is still playing baseball in the Domincan Winter League. The 36-year-old has compiled a 2.04 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings. We're not sure if he's planning a comeback or just bored and wants to strike some people out -- but we'd love to see him add to his 207 career saves. Mostly though, we just miss him furiously untucking his shirt after recording the final out of a game:
Jeremy Guthrie, Melbourne Aces. Last MLB appearance: 2015
After not appearing in a big league uniform last year, Guthrie recently signed on to play winter ball in Australia. It looks as though the former World Series champ hasn't pitched in a game yet, but he's still managed to make the league's All-Star team. Probably because he's good at Twitter.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Gigantes de Carolina. Last MLB appearance: 2014
Dice-K, 36, is reportedly pitching in Puerto Rico to get ready for his third (and final) season with the NPB's Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Thus far, he's 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA. In his most recent outing, he gave up just three hits and one run over five innings. Dan Uggla shudders at the thought:
Wily Mo Pena, Tigres del Licey. Last MLB appearance: 2011
Yes, after getting tired of obliterating baseballs in Japan, Wily Mo took a break this past season. But now, the 34-year-old has returned to the Dominican winter league where we hope (oh god we hope so much) that a big league team takes a chance on him. He hasn't played in two weeks and only has six hits and four RBIs through 10 games, but we're guessing he'll start crushing soon. He does have this sort-of triple:
I'm no scout or anything, but I'm pretty sure that should translate to these kinds of hits in the Majors: