Prodigal Son Kip Wells Returns To White Sox

Starting pitcher Kip Wells of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after getting the third out of the first inning against the Florida Marlins at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Usually, we don't write much about minor-league deals here at Baseball Nation. But this one could wind up being quite interesting.

Kip Wells is one of the most uninteresting pitchers in recent baseball history, with a career ERA of 4.71, WHIP of 1.51 and ERA+ of 94, in 289 career games.

So, you're asking, why are we featuring him here at Baseball Nation?

Because he could become one of the more interesting stories of the 2012 season. Here's why:

That's not very interesting either, is it? But this is:

Wells is 34 -- he'll be 35 in about two weeks -- and if he's hitting 93, he can definitely help a major-league team. He was the White Sox' No. 1 pick in 1998 and a year later he was on their big-league squad. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake, because he never really got the chance to develop. Instead, he got traded to the Pirates in 2001, along with Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe, for Todd Ritchie and a minor leaguer named Lee Evans.

Now there's a trade that hurt both teams.

Wells continued his journey for the next eight years, winding up with eight teams overall and never accomplishing anything special, unless you count leading his league in losses (twice), walks (once) and wild pitches (once) as "special". Take a look at the photo attached to this feature. The caption reads:

Starting pitcher Kip Wells of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after getting the third out of the first inning against the Florida Marlins at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Celebrating getting the third out of the first inning. Guess you have to celebrate when you can. (Actually, the game where that celebration happened was one of Wells' better career starts -- he threw eight shutout innings.)

He last pitched in the major leagues in 2009 with the Reds (and not very well -- 4.66 ERA in 10 appearances) and last pitched anywhere for the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League in 2010. He signed a minor-league deal with the Diamondbacks a year ago but never pitched in their organization.

And now, he's playing the prodigal-son role for the team that so cruelly shipped him to Pittsburgh eleven long years ago.

I'm going to stop making fun here, especially because this makes it an even more cool story:

That's the kind of thing that can get a player the Comeback Player of the Year award. By law, I'm required to mention Ryan Vogelsong at this point. Rooting for guys like this is one of the best things about being a baseball fan.

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