By Daniel Gretzner
Major League Baseball, for many past decades, has always had a player or two from the Dearborn/Downriver area playing for one of the pro teams. Currently, the two main guys are right-hand pitchers, Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves, along with J.J. Putz, a reliever on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both hurlers happen to be in the National League. That means local baseball fans are unable to see them come into Detroit, except for inter-league play.
Lowe, who started picking up his pitching skills at Edsel Ford high school, went on to pitch in the World Series, when he was with the Boston Red Sox, some time ago. The Dearborn native is having a so-so year with Atlanta, posting a 3-6 record as a starting pitcher. The Braves are in second place, in the National-East Division and are a definite contender this season.
Over in the National League-West Division is one of the best “closers” in the business, that would be J.J. Putz, who hails from Trenton and is doing some excellent relief work for Arizona this year. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks Manager, appreciates how effective Putz is when he is attending to his mound duties. The Downriver chap has accumulated 2l saves out of 23 attempts. He is 1-2 thus far in the won-loss column.
Both local hurlers have moved around in the major’s, especially Putz, who spent a few years at Seattle, before a short stint with the New York Mets and then the Chicago White Sox, before landing in Arizona.
The Diamondbacks are playing solid baseball these days, a surprise to many. Putz is part of that new brand of winning baseball that has made Arizona a contending team, fighting San Fransisco for possession of first place in the National-West.
Only time will tell if either of these home-grown pitchers will stay healthy enough to stay the entire year. Their respective teams are in the thick of it and hopefully will make the playoff games, if Atlanta or Arizona don’t win an outright division title.
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