C.J. Nitkowski of the Detroit Tigers gets ready to pitch during a game against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. Credit: Tom Pigeon /Allsport
C.J. Nitkowski was once a No. 1 pick in the draft. Now he's 39 years old and trying a comeback with the Mets. Hey, why not?
C.J. Nitkowski. You remember him, right?
Well, unless you were a fan of the Tigers or the seven other teams he played for from 1995-2005, you probably don't. Nitkowski was the Reds' No. 1 pick (ninth overall) in the 1994 draft and less than a year later, he was in the major leagues.
This probably wasn't a great idea, as he posted a 6.12 ERA for Cincinnati before being shipped to the Tigers less than two months later; he was even worse (7.09 ERA) for them in '95.
After seven bad appearances for the 2005 Nationals, he was released and spent a year in the Pirates' organization. Then he went to Japan for two years, followed by Korea for two years, and he wasn't very good in the Korean leagues either (4.71 ERA in 101 innings). It's kind of the poor man's Ryan Vogelsong tour.
But Nitkowski is a thoughtful guy; he's got his own blog and tweets about baseball and other topics and wrote an article last year for Sports Illustrated about stem cell treatments he was having (all legal, said the World Anti-Doping Agency).
Now, all those treatments have Nitkowski wanting to get back to the major leagues, at age 39:
This ESPN New York article says Nitkowski is "now a sidearmer." Guys like that don't really have to throw hard to succeed; all they have to do is locate and be deceptive. Nitkowski is a New York-area native and played college ball at St. John's. And he's left-handed. You can never have enough lefthanders.
If Nitkowski shows anything in his tryout, why not sign him? The Mets are devolving into chaos in pretty much every area. Nitkowski won't be an All-Star like Vogelsong, but he could be a nice addition to a bullpen and team that could use some good news.