Uh oh. The Yankees reign as the favorites in the American League East just took a hip. It was announced today that Alex Rodriguez, who has had a quiet spring thus far (tongue in cheek please), will miss at least ten weeks after having surgery on his hip. If the Fan is looking at his calendar correctly, that takes us until at least the second week of May. If Utley is any indication, the absence could be much longer. In the meantime, who will play third?
It might be the answer to the trivia question: Who had the last putout in Yankee Stadium? Yup, that would be Cody Ransom. It is certainly another bizarre twist in the long baseball journey of the kid from Arizona.
You see, Ransom isn't some young fresh-faced phenom from the minor leagues after a stellar college career. This is a guy who is thirty-two years old who has played in parts of six big league seasons in total anonymity after a long and improbable career in the minor leagues. He has played in 166 games in those six season and yet only has 183 at bats.
Ransom was once a 43rd round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians way back in 1995. But he didn't join the Indians. Instead he went to college. But he wasn't content to just play for one college. He played for three different colleges. While at the first one, he survived a van rollover that killed four of his teammates.
After college, he was again drafted, this time by the Giants and he moved all the way up to the ninth round. He played several years in the Giant's organization including several cameos with the big league club, usually as a defensive replacement. He hit his first major league homer in 2003.
After the 2004 season, the Giants cut him loose and he signed with the Cubs. But before he had a chance to play for them, he was traded to the Rangers. He played AAA ball for the Rangers for 24 games, batting .261 and he was released. The Cubs took him back and he played for their AAA club the rest of the year. They non-tendered him at the end of the year.
Ransom then signed with the Mariners. He had a miserable Spring Training with them in 2006 and they shipped him to Houston. He played two years of AAA ball for Houston and led that team in homers and RBI. He was rewarded with a September call up in 2007, his first big league action since 2004. He hit one homer was was generally unspectacular.
He was a free agent again in 2008 and the Yankees signed him and he played for their top minor league team until he was called up in August. He hit a home run in his first two at bats for the big club and ended up with four for the season. It was just 43 at bats, but a 1.051 OPS was kind of pretty.
So he comes to camp in 2009 hoping to make the club and now finds himself as the favorite to open the year as the Yankees' starting third baseman. Sometimes it is an amazing journey for some players who hang in there and grind it out. He is in his tenth professional season and is with his sixth organization after playing for three colleges and surviving a fatal bus crash. Life is a strange thing sometimes.
The Yankees will hope that Ransom can hit a little bit and play a decent third base and hold the position down until A-Rod comes back. Will Ransom's strange journey end with a World Series ring? Time will tell. Stranger things have happened in Ransom's life.