Friday, December 9, 2011

Homegrown Homecoming: Curtis Leskanic

Curtis Leskanic is another of the original Rockies, taken from the Indians in the expansion draft. He made his major-league debut with Colorado in 1993, pitching 57 innings and allowing 34 earned runs. By the end of the shortened 1994 season, it had become clear that he was a better fit for the bullpen, and he was officially converted to a reliever.

After that, his ERA bounced around, and in his best season with the Rockies, 1995, it was 3.40. He also saved 10 games that year. And he appeared in 76 games, more than any other pitcher in the National League.

The Rockies finally let Leskanic go in 1999, trading him to the Brewers for Mike Myers. The transaction took place on November 17th, 7 years to the day after he was initially drafted by Colorado. He played two full season in Milwaukee, converting 12 of 13 save opportunities in 2000. He was traded to the Royals in mid-2003. There, he only pitched 26 innings, but his ERA was a career-low 1.73. Unfortunately, it catapulted to a  career-high 8.04 in 2004, and he was released by Kansas City in June of that year.

Leskanic finished the '04 season with the Red Sox, and is perhaps best known for earning the win in Game 4 of the ALCS between the Sox and the Yankees. It was no small victory; going into that game, Boston was down 0-3 in the series. Their improbable comeback and win led to the first World Series championship for the franchise since 1918.

Following his retirement, Leskanic joined the Red Sox organization as a scout. Unfortunately, not all his actions since his playing days have been good ones. This past September, he was found in his truck near his home in Orlando, passed out at the wheel. His five-year-old daughter was also in the vehicle. Leskanic's blood alcohol level was .331. I hope this was simply a misstep, and that he'll figure out what he needs to do to get back on track. I have fond memories of his time with the Rockies and would like those memories to remain as fond as possible.

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