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Great Article for Journyman Ken Ray, Potential in Braves' Bullpen

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  • Great Article for Journyman Ken Ray, Potential in Braves' Bullpen

    If you ever wanted to know anything about Ken Ray, this is the article to read. After reading this, it really makes me want the guy to make the bullpen sooner or later this season, have a decent showing so he could retire happy after the season, or who knows stick around for a couple seasons (doubtful I know).

    Veteran prospect nears ‘what I’ve been fighting for’

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    In year one of his career, Ken Ray had the Major League Baseball logo tattooed on his left shoulder. He probably realized at some point during some bus ride from one outpost to another that tattoos don’t come with mojo.

    “You know,” said Ray, looking at the tattoo, “it’s one of those things you look back on and think, well …”

    Rockford, Wichita, Wilmington. Omaha, Fresno, Yuba-Sutter. High Desert, Huntsville, North Shore.

    We could keep going. Fifteen teams. Thirteen leagues.

    If Ken Ray really wanted a tattoo, he should’ve picked the Mapquest logo.

    The Braves were overrun by home-grown players last year — Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann and Kyle Davies, to name a few. Ray, a pitcher, also the latest. But it’s been a while. He was drafted in the 18th round (497th overall) out of Roswell High School by Kansas City in 1993.

    Soon after, he dropped into the abyss, tattoo and all.

    Given that Ray has spent an eternity in the minors — save a 13-game reprieve with the Royals in 1999 — it’s no wonder that he has heard “Crash” Davis references from younger teammates along the way. Ray laughed and said, “I tell them to respect their elders.”

    The Braves break camp Thursday. When they return to Atlanta and play a pair of exhibitions Friday and Saturday, they’ll bring a 31-year-old obscurity with them. Ray wears No. 81 and is on a minor-league contract. But this isn’t merely a case of, “Let’s show the kid what Turner Field looks like.”

    “He’s got a shot to make the team,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. Ray threw an inning of shutout relief Tuesday against Houston. That gives him five shutout innings in four appearances, yielding just three hits to 18 batters (.167). He struck out four batters in two innings the other day against the New York Mets. He has good speed and a solid change-up. As a former starter, he has the ability to throw a few innings of relief, a quality Cox likes to have in the bullpen.

    “I’m getting pretty nervous about it,” said Larry Ray, Ken’s father, a custodian at Haynes Bridge Middle School in Alpharetta. “Ken is determined to make it to the big leagues. Even when he hurt his arm, he didn’t let it get him down.”

    “It seems like a long road,” the son said.

    We call this: understatement. Ray played only two years at Roswell High — as a freshman and a senior. Ray said during the two years in between, he “got mixed up with the wrong crowd in high school. The next thing you know, you don’t care too much about baseball.” He didn’t elaborate. But didn’t drift so far away that he couldn’t come back.

    Seven seasons in the Kansas City organization yielded just the short trip to the majors in 1999. Then his odyssey began. He was the “player to be named later” in a trade with the San Francisco Giants in 2000. But he pitched only seven games in the minors, then had surgery for a torn labrum. The injury didn’t improve. Ray had a second operation with a different doctor the following year. He missed all of 2001 and most of 2002, then signed with an independent team in California (the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox in the Western League. They’re not on ESPN).

    “We would go from Chico to Solano, then Yuma, Ariz.,” he said. Bus rides were as long as 12 hours.

    Ray’s vagabond existence continued. The Milwaukee Brewers signed him, then left him. The Chicago White Sox did the same. They brought him to spring training last year, then cut him with five days left. So it was back to the independents. The Braves spotted him playing for North Shore in the Can-Am League last season, liked what they saw and needed a starter in Richmond. They tried him as a reliever in a Mexican winter league, and he impressed them again.

    Can this be it? Finally? Ray has a wife and a 6-month old son living in Arizona. There comes a time when you have to get a real job. He considered quitting two years ago and joining some friends at the police academy but figured he would give it one more shot.

    “When you’re down in A-ball making $1,350 a month and you have a mortgage and everything, it gets stressful,” he said.

    But now comes some reward. “It’s what I’ve been fighting for my whole career, to be able to play in front of a hometown crowd.”
    Last edited by grizzly451; 03-31-2006, 07:14 AM.

  • #2
    Great Article, I wish Ken all the best. Then again who wouldn't.
    Simply... TAKING BACK THE EAST IN 2007

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    • #3
      I hope he gets another shot in the majors.
      2nd member of the Peter Moylan Fan Club

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      • #4
        Good News!

        Ken Ray got called up before tonight's game against the Giants, he came in late in the game and looked pretty solid, he struck out Barry Bonds on 4 pitches and even the announcers were talking about Bonds looking completely fooled by Ray's pitches.

        It was Ray's first time back in the majors in over 6 years.

        Congrats Ken!

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        • #5
          Way to go Ken!
          2nd member of the Peter Moylan Fan Club

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          • #6
            Was reading an article...

            An article about Devine and Ray getting called up, noticed this:

            Ray wasn't even a non-roster invitee in this year's camp, but while being used as an extra in some games, his lively fastball made quite an impression on Cox. The 31-year-old right-hander allowed just one run and recorded seven strikeouts, while issuing just one walk in seven Grapefruit League innings.



            Plus, its clear that Ray was mainly called up from Boyer still having some problems with his shoulder.

            Thats pretty wacky, going from just being an extra in spring training games, to being on the major league roster in just over a month.

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            • #7
              He really showed good stuff yesterday and he deserves to be in the Braves pen. He's had one of the best outings out of all the pitchers in the pen.
              2nd member of the Peter Moylan Fan Club

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