Nate Robertson was on the verge of pitching in the major leagues this week. His next start won’t have that level of glamour and it won’t come in Triple-A, where the former Wichita State left-hander has spent much of the last three seasons.
But the start will have plenty of meaning for Robertson because it will come at home. The Wingnuts signed the 34-year-old World Series participant after their 10-5 win over Amarillo Monday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Robertson will start tonight against the Sox and throw about 30 pitches as he tries to build strength after making 14 relief appearances for Triple-A Iowa this season. Robertson will join two of his three brothers with the Wingnuts, pitching coach Luke Robertson and general manager Josh Robertson.
"You never really think about three of us coming together and being a part of one deal," Nate Robertson said. "I played high school ball (at Maize) with Josh and me and Luke played separately, but it’s a very unique situation and it’s pretty cool."
Robertson was contacted by the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend after three of their starting pitchers went on the disabled list.
Toronto ultimately passed on Robertson when he told them his arm wasn’t conditioned to be a starter, so the Wingnuts will extend his pitch count in each start in case the next MLB team to call has similar demands.
Robertson last pitched in the majors in 2010 with the Phillies, making two relief appearances. He’s trying to work his way back after four arm surgeries and a sports hernia surgery during his 11-year pro career. He’s 57-77 with a 5.01 ERA in parts of nine MLB seasons. He went 13-0 at WSU.
"He knows he needs to log those innings because nothing else is happening," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "It’s just going to be a matter of time, we’re all hoping. He’s just going to come, help me win some ballgames and then get on with it. We’re hopefully going to see him pitch on TV again one day."
Hooper and Robertson arrived at WSU as freshmen in 1996 and were drafted by the Marlins three years later. They were teammates for the Detroit Tigers in 2005 and ’06, when Detroit reached the World Series.
Robertson had his most success with Detroit after he was traded there from Florida in 2003. He won 12 games in 2004 and in ’06 he went 13-13 with a 3.84 ERA, starting Game 3 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis featured current Wingnuts outfielder John Rodriguez in a bench role, but the two did not face each other.
The Wingnuts are hardly in need of reinforcements, improving Monday to an American Association-best 22-8. But Wichita had a need in its pitching staff with the recent injury to Jose Perez and inked Robertson and former Lincoln pitcher Nick Schreiber, who will relieve Robertson tonight. Outfielder Mitch Einertson was released.
The Wingnuts rapped 14 hits on Monday. The Wingnuts led 6-5 in the sixth before scoring five runs and holding the lead as the bullpen worked three scoreless innings.
|White ss||4||1||0||0||Khoury ss||5||2||2||1|
|Tucker rf||4||0||2||0||Kahaulelio 2b||4||2||3||2|
|Opitz 2b||5||1||1||0||Rodriguez dh||5||2||2||4|
|Alberts dh||4||1||3||0||Richardson 3b||5||0||1||0|
|Espinosa 1b||5||1||1||0||Ziegler 1b||2||0||1||0|
|Pope 3b||4||0||1||2||Peralta rf||4||1||1||2|
|Buschini lf||3||1||2||1||Einertson cf||5||0||1||0|
|Kain cf||3||0||1||2||Freeman c||3||2||2||1|
E—Abeita (1). LOB—Amarillo 9, Wichita 9. DP— Amarillo 1, Wichita 1. 2B— Espinosa (5), Kain (8), Kahaulelio (8), Ziegler (9), Freeman (7).
Umpires — home, Pascucci; first, Spadola; third, Hoffman. T — 3:00. A — 3,223.