McClung would be "ecstatic" to return to the Brewers
Call it my personal mission of the summer. I plan on doing everything I can to get former Brewers pitcher Seth McClung back into a Milwaukee uniform. Given the Brewers pitching woes in 2010, it hardly seems like a stretch.
I've already blogged and tweeted about it. But now I've spoken to McClung and, much as I expected, the 6-foot 6-inch pitcher says he'd love to return to the Brewers.
Like many Brewers fans, I liked McClung from the start. Not that he's the second coming of Pete Vuckovich or anything, but he happily accepted any role the team asked of him, and when he wasn't adjusting from the frequent switching between starting and the bullpen, he was an effective, modest, down-to-earth pitcher with a dominating fastball.
When I started following McClung on Twitter last fall and wrote a subsequent article about his affinity for social media, I realized he's a good guy, too. A father of a toddler, McClung genuinely cherished pitching in Milwaukee and appreciated the city's fans and their blue-collar attitude toward the game.
When the Brewers cut him before spring training, citing salary issues, I was disappointed, and McClung was, too. Word leaked out that he didn't get along with Brewers skipper Ken Macha, which seems like a much more viable reason to not re-sign the guy who helped Milwaukee get to the playoffs in 2008 and never cost the team more than $1.6 million. Players who simply love being on the Brewers are few and far between.
Says McClung, "I would've loved to come back to Milwaukee, but I understand they made a financial decision. I felt at home in Milwaukee, which is kind of crazy, because I never felt at home anywhere else. It was a good fit for me."
In 2010, McClung was offered a minor-league contract with the Florida Marlins, but after a poor showing in spring training, he was granted his release (more on that later). Now, he's out of professional baseball, playing in an amateur league in Florida to keep his arm sharp.
Lately, I've been asking myself why the team won't at least take a look at the 29-year-old RHP, for the role of closer, set-up man, long reliever or starter.
Finally, I picked up the phone and asked McClung, himself. Not surprisingly, he, too, would love to give it a try.
It's not about the money, according to McClung. By my estimates, he's earned more than $3 million in his career, which is not an insignificant amount of cash -- but McClung admits that he "doesn't have many other skills in the workplace" and he'd like to ensure his young family's financial security by playing at least a few more years of professional ball.
According to McClung, it's mostly about the love of the game.
"I don't feel I'm anywhere near done," says McClung. "I'm not concerned about money, I just want to pitch in the big leagues. I want to win a championship and the other stuff will come."
Not that it's an option, but I get a sense that McClung would probably play in Milwaukee for free.
Put another way, he says, "I would be ecstatic playing for the Milwaukee Brewers."
McClung insists that he's still prepared to pitch in any situation a team needs him to, whether that's starter, long relief or closer.
"Being the 'long guy' isn't a glamorous position," says McClung, but he says that teams that have a bullpen or a closer by committee tend to struggle. He says it's much easier to get the job done when a pitcher knows and can prepare for his given role.
"I was allowed to eat up those non-glamorous innings and keep the rotation fresh, and if someone in the rotation needed a breather, I know I could do that."
McClung still refuses to use the excuse that jumping from starter to the bullpen and back hurt his numbers -- even though it's natural to expect that the adjustments a pitcher must make in juggling frequency and duration of outings must have an effect on earned runs and walks. In 2009, McClung appeared in 41 games, compiling a 4.94 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 39 walks. In 2008, the year that he contributed to the Brewers wild-card berth, he had a 4.02 ERA over 105.1 innings, striking out 87 while walking 55.
"Most people would say, '(With a defined role) he'd be more consistent,' but I just appreciated the opportunity to play. I can't say I'd be better with a consistent role, but I have to be in the big leagues to get a role."
As for this perceived rift with Macha, McClung says both are grown men and baseball is a professional sport comprised of professional athletes. It's something he can get past -- assuming he would even need to -- Macha's job security may not be rock-solid right now, anyway.
"I'm the kind of guy who goes out there and does what he is told," says McClung. "I try to give the kind of respect that is given to me. Everyone is trying to do their best and sometimes conflicts arise. Everyone is a grown-up here, and I feel like I am ready to move on. I'm in a place where I want to continue to play ball, and things always tend to work themselves out."
Finally, McClung says he's totally realistic about taking a minor league assignment to get tuned up. But he's not interested in finishing his career in baseball in the minors, either. He says the Marlins situation wasn't right for him; he wants a team to commit that, if he can demonstrate his worth, it wants him to return to the big leagues.
"I haven't had a good spring training since I was 23 or 24 years old," says McClung. "I was really throwing the ball really well, with the exception of an outing and a half, but I was breaking a lot of bats. Going into the season, I was feeling really good. I was ready to break out, but (the Marlins) just went in a different direction. I tried to be a man about it. Everything happens for a reason. I'm home right now, being a dad and working out, and I know that God will point me in the right direction."
McClung is a guy who still talks about the Brewers as "we." Someone who reads the Crew's box scores but finds it a little too painful to watch the games right now. He misses baseball and Milwaukee's fans, and he speaks incredibly highly of his old teammates, including troubled closer Trevor Hoffman.
And he's reached out to general manager Doug Melvin via e-mail to let him know he's available and interested. "He said he'd keep it in mind," McClung says.
But he's not going to beg for a job, and he certainly doesn't want to come off as a scorned ex. He just wants to pitch.
Says McClung, "I want to pitch for a team that wants me in the big leagues. I've got almost six full years in the major leagues, I know how to pitch."
Given Milwaukee's tenuous -- and from my perspective -- poorly assembled pitching staff in 2010, why not give him a shot? It will cost next to nothing and can't hurt at this point.
"My time in Milwaukee was cherished, and who knows what will happen, maybe I'll come back and I will love it. Whoever I play for, I will bring the same kind of intensity and fire that I had. Hopefully I can play for a team that had the kind of magic we had in 2008."
Seth McClung will pitch again someday. For my money, I'd like to see him do it in a Brewers uniform.
Could you imagine being in an amateur league and trying to hit McClung pitching 100 mph? I know he toned it down in the big leagues to gain control and was pitching mid-90's, but in the amateur leagues with nothing at stake he has to be letting it loose.
Join the "Bring Back Seth McClung" Facebook group, its worked for other things... http://www.facebook.com/search/?flt=1&q=Seth%20McClung&o=69&sid=185105131.1330711527..1#!/group.php?gid=148397532171
Ha! Yet another reason to can Melvin...he let Maddox go because they didn't want to pay him what he would have cost. Yet he'll give multi million dollar multi year deals to over the hill pitchers. Randy Wolf for 3 years?! Jeff Suppon for 4?! Latroy Hawkins for 2? I think we're still paying David Riske! You gotta be kidding me.
You go, girl! Let's get that Mick back here. Seriously, how is it possible that with the dearth of pitching in the major leagues, he's playing in an amateur league? Cy Young he's not, certainly, but the numbers he'd put up for maybe a million a year are way above what we're getting out of a few guys who are making 10 times that. And he's good people and he wants to be here. As for Maddux, sure that'd be swell, but I believe he already has a job.
I guess I need to pay closer attention to the bullpen, I totally forgot Seth McClung wasn't here. I'd be in favor of bringing him back although I think the move that needs to be made is firing Rick Peterson, his creepy persona and his horrible work with our pitching staff. Bring back Mike Maddux! That guy turned coal into diamonds and covered up for Melvin all the time. Turning Turnblow into an all star as well as Dan Kolb that guy was a magic man.
Show me the other Talkback
6 comments about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.