A tip of the cap to former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan who announced in a poignant letter last week that he if forced to retire from baseball because of the failure of his oft-injured right shoulder to heal.
McClellan was a true class act for the Redbirds and one of my favorite types of player: The guy who is willing to do anything to help his team, be it his preferred role or another area of need.
In 2011 McClellan was robbed of a chance to pitch (well) in the post season because he blew out his arm helping the Cardinals get through a shortage of starting pitchers, thanks in part to Adam Wainwright's season-ending elbow injury. He filled in admirably as long as he could, going 12-7 in 141 2/3 innings and, without his contributions, the Cardinals wouldn't have made the playoffs or won the World Series.
He ended up pitching only 1/3 of an inning in the post season that year. But I'm glad he'll retire with a a ring. I'm sure his career was shorter than he would have liked. But his goodbye letter focused, instead, on the many positive experiences he had in his time as a professional ballplayer pitching for his home town team.
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Hopefully the Cardinals will find a place in the organization for McClellan to coach.
On a personal note, my son got his first autograph from Kyle McClellan when he was 3 1/2 years old. The St. Louis righthander couldn't have been more gracious, not only signing a baseball for my boy, but also taking the time to talk with him and pose for a photo. Baseball could use more guys like that.