Before his one inning against the Royals on Monday, Ben Rowen hadn’t seen action in the Majors since 2016.
The submarine-style reliever who also mixes in overhand action had thrown only 11 2/3 innings since debuting with the Rangers in 2014. During the gap between big league action, he searched for jobs outside of baseball while still playing the Minor Leagues and independent leagues.
In that time, Rowen worked as a marketing director for a fire and safety company in La Mesa, Calif., as he started planning for life after baseball.
“Mentally [I] kind of retired a couple of times, chatted with my wife, got a couple jobs as a marketing director at this fire and safety company in San Diego," Rowen said "... [I was] kind of just preparing for life in general, especially with the pandemic last year."
Rowen said some familiarity with the Angels front office was key in his decision to sign a deal with the club. Angels general manager Perry Minasian and assistant general manager Alex Tamin were in the Braves front office when Rowen was signed to a Minor League deal with Atlanta in 2019.
Now, just under two weeks into the 2021 season, Rowen finds himself back in the big leagues. In Rowen’s first outing back on an MLB mound, he worked a clean ninth inning and struck out Royals first baseman Ryan McBroom to shut the door on a 10-3 Angels win.
“I guess it was almost like my first time,” Rowen said. “It was wonderful to be back out there. Some guys I knew in that [Royals] lineup, so it was pretty nice to see them still there. It’s been a while, so I enjoyed it.”
Even with the long process to get back to the Majors, Rowen kept focus on making his return.
“There [were] definitely some doubts, but at the same time [I] kind of worked hard and kept my head down all the time.”
Ohtani throws another bullpen
Two-way player Shohei Ohtani's next start has been delayed due to a blister issue, but he was able to throw a bullpen session before the Angels' matchup with the Royals on Wednesday.
During a pregame media conference, Angels manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t know the specifics of how the session went for Ohtani.
He added that he believed Ohtani threw the session without a bandage on the blistered finger.
“[Ohtani] did not [wear a bandage] the other day,” Maddon said. “So, I would imagine again, not today, but I don’t know that for sure, but he already [threw without a bandage].”
Upton out again
Left fielder Justin Upton was scratched from Tuesday's lineup against the Royals with back stiffness, and although Maddon said pregame Wednesday that Upton would be in the lineup for the series finale, the outfielder ended up on the bench again Wednesday. Jon Jay started in left field.