Confusing headline, right? Well, that’s basically the impression I and anyone who has spoken with former Revs pitcher Matt DeSalvo recently got.
Why should anyone care about DeSalvo’s status, you might ask? Well, for anyone who got to see the right-hander play in York in 2010 and 2011, the answer to that question is easy.
The former big leaguer had a rubber arm on the mound, at least for a season-and-a-half. In 2010, DeSalvo went 5-2 with a 4.67 ERA in seven starts and five relief appearances. A few times that season he opted to make a relief appearance in a game instead of throwing a bullpen session on the side between starts.
Then in 2011, he went 6-3 with a 3.89 ERA in 18 starts and five relief appearances, tossing 106.1 innings. What’s crazy is that he totaled nearly all of those innings in the first half of the season before arm injuries plagued the second half of the season. He had tossed a Atlantic League-leading 96.2 innings and compiled a 6-3 record and 3.82 ERA in the first half of the season to earn a spot in the 2011 Atlantic League All-Star game.
So, DeSalvo could prove to be a big upgrade to any pitching staff, if healthy (more on this later). And it’s exactly why Mason kept the door open to DeSalvo all of last season when he pitched in Taiwan. Mason was hoping to get DeSalvo back in York near the end of the 2012 season, but DeSalvo’s team over in Taiwan ended up making the playoffs. When chatting by phone late last Friday night, DeSalvo said he led the league in Taiwan in strikeouts, was one away from the league lead in wins and a couple points off the league lead in ERA. But the experience wasn’t exactly an enjoyable one, according to DeSalvo, who I chatted with by phone last Friday night.
“They were throwing me 130 pitches in a start,” DeSalvo said of his time pitching in Taiwan. “I didn’t know how many pitches I was throwing because the communication wasn’t really smooth because the interpreter didn’t speak english. It’d be the seventh inning and I’d be at 95 pitches and I’d say ‘Hey, I don’t want to throw more than 110 pitches. The next inning I’d go out there and get around 105 pitches and no one would be warming up to go in the game. So, because there’s a lot of communication issues, you’re forced into situations to throw.
“One week I almost threw 270 pitches in a week. I ended up getting elbow inflammation because at the end of season my arm was messed up. They ended going to the playoffs but couldn’t use me because they overused me.”
That’s why DeSalvo said he turned down the offer to return to the team in Taiwan this year.
“At the end of day I want to be able to play catch with my kids,” he said. “I don’t have kids yet, but if I went back to Taiwan I wouldn’t be able to throw.”
But it didn’t deter DeSalvo from trying out for the Hanshin Tigers in Okinawa, Japan in early February.
“They wanted me throwing 93 or 94 (miles an hour). I was only throwing 91 because it was the first week of spring training and I wasn’t in mid-season form,” he said. “So I didn’t get the contract.”
Now, DeSalvo says he is retired.
“I had other options as far as work so I decided so I decided on retirement,” he said.
As for the next steps in his career?
“I have no clue really. The main thing is I’m gonna teach and coach.”
DeSalvo said he is certified in Ohio and Pennsylvania to teach biology, chemistry and environmental science at the high school level. While giving baseball lessons on the side, he is currently looking for a high school job but he does have a teaching gig lined up at Butler County Community College in Butler, Pennsylvania, which begins sometime in August. But the months between now and then is anyone’s guess as to what DeSalvo, who splits his time living between Ohio and Pennsylvania, will do.
And DeSalvo left the door open when asked what he would do if the right situation would come along for him to play again this season.
“I kind of would like to come back and play in the summer time just to walk away on my own terms,” he said. “I didn’t get to say goodbye to the game. I know that sounds weird and emotional coming from a baseball player. I would like to play a little bit. It depends on how my summer goes with teaching jobs. If I don’t get a teaching job I’d like to come and play in May through August. But it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I have a teaching job lined up that I have to leave for.”
This all sounds like DeSalvo, according to Mason and former Revs’ pitcher Mike DeMark, who is currently in extended spring training with the Oakland Athletics.
“You know how Matt is. One month he’ll tell you he’s retired and the next month he’s pitching in Puerto Rico,” said DeMark, who converted from an outfielder to a pitcher by learning from DeSalvo when the two were teammates at Marietta College.
“The last time I talked to Matt he said he was gonna retire but he thought he might go to Taiwan,” Mason said after Tuesday’s practice. “I didn’t know what that meant. And then I talked to DeMark when DeMark got released (by the Arizona Diamonbacks last month). He called me and talked to me for awhile. He said he talked to DeSalvo and DeSalvo said ‘I’m retired. But maybe we should go pitch for Mace.’ And DeMark said ‘Well, I thought you just said you’re retired.’ DeSalvo said ‘Yeah, but if nothing comes up maybe we could pitch in York.’ I don’t know. As of right now, Brett Favre, Jr is retired for the eighth time.”
But if DeSalvo were interested in returning, Mason said he’d listen.
“I’m not gonna say if I don’t have an interest,” Mason said. “If he wants to come and pitch…I talked to him last year all the time and he said the amount of money he needed and I told him he could get that for the whole year. He wanted that per month. I never rule him out. If he called me and said ‘I want to come and pitch’ we would have to consider that.”
Plus, DeSalvo said he is going to be visiting York County at some point this summer to participate in adult league softball tournaments.
“There’s a big tournament in August and one in July,” DeSalvo said. “People don’t know this but the one year I played in York I played in a softball tournament on the side, but I just didn’t tell anybody.”Read More