Carson High grad signs with Mets
February 24, 2003
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Though the New York Mets inked southpaw Donovan Osborne, a Carson High graduate, to a minor-league deal on Saturday, don’t expect him to see much action this spring or be on the Major League roster when camp breaks next month.
This signing is a bit different than the deals which general manager Steve Phillips brokered with the likes of Tony Clark, Graeme Lloyd, David Cone and Jay Bell. Osborne comes into camp knowing that he has little or no chance of making the team and that his immediate future is almost guaranteed to include a stay at Triple-A Norfolk.
Phillips had expressed on Thursday that signing either Osborne or Robert Person, both of whom worked out for the club last week, was no longer an option. There were just too many pitchers in camp and not enough innings to go around. But Osborne’s agent, Jeff Moorad, and Phillips had a conversation and came to the understanding that the hurler would come to the Major League camp just to work on drills and use the time as a getting-to-know-you period.
“We came to the understanding that he’s not getting a commitment from us,” Phillips said. “We can’t make that commitment to anyone with innings. He said he would just come in and work a little and put the face to the name. There will be a comfort-level there. But we can’t promise him innings. “I wouldn’t mind stretching him out and have him start at Triple-A. We’ve liked him in the past and he has a pretty good changeup. Maybe we’ll catch lightning in a bottle so we take a little risk.”
Osborne’s deal calls for him to make $450,000 if he is on the Major League roster and $12,500 a month if he is in the minors. He pitched for Chicago last season, appearing in 11 games out of the bullpen before getting sidelined with a broken rib. He didn’t pitch after May 8.
Formerly a starter with St. Louis from 1992-99, Osborne, 33, was out of baseball in 2000 and 2001 recuperating from injuries and dealing with personal issues.
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“I’m just glad to be here,” Osborne said. “I took time off to recover mentally. I was going through a tough divorce and injuries played a role. I felt great in April and May last year but I busted a rib throwing a ball. It was a freak accident. I was pitching and it just snapped.”
Osborne said several other clubs, including the Red Sox, had expressed interest. But he said the Mets were the best fit for him and that he would go to Norfolk to work if that’s what the team wanted. So much so that he doesn’t have an out in his contract that would allow him to go to another club at the end of March.
“I’m going to stay here,” he said. “The Mets gave me a chance so I’m going to stick with it.”
Osborne is 47-46 with a 3.96 ERA in 154 games (138 starts) with the Cardinals and Cubs. His best year came in 1996, when he went 13-9 with a 3.53 ERA in 30 starts for St. Louis.
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