By Jim Callis
July 22, 2003
With Sterling Hitchcock ineffective, the Yankees had been searching for another lefthander to team with Chris Hammond in their bullpen. They pursued Scott Sauerbeck before the Pirates traded him to the Red Sox, and the Cardinals weren’t willing to give up Steve Kline for Hitchcock. So on Tuesday night New York went in a different direction, acquiring Jesse Orosco, the majors’ oldest player, from the Padres for a player to be named later and cash.
Orosco, 46, holds the major league record for pitching appearances with 1,229. He broke into the majors in 1979 with the Mets, whose manager was current Yankees skipper Joe Torre. In 2003, he has gone 1-1, 7.56 with two saves in 42 games, with a 22-10 strikeout-walk ratio and .317 opponent average. He’s strictly a situational southpaw, as he can get lefthanders out with his slider but struggles terribly against righties. He has held lefties to a .228 average with a .641 on-base plus slugging percentage, while righties have torched him for a .426 average and 1.142 OPS. Orosco’s career record stands at 86-79, 3.13 with 144 saves. He’s making $800,000 on a one-year contract this year, and the Yankees will pay him the prorated minimum (approximately $111,000) while the Padres will pick up the remainder of his salary (roughly $189,000).
Update: The Padres received an undisclosed amount of cash from the Yankees to complete the deal.