Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mark Hendrickson, 2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee #82

I kind of love the bizarre symbiotic relationship the Orioles have had with journeyman Mark Hendrickson since 2009. They signed the 6'9" ex-Blue Jay/Devil Ray/Dodger/Marlin (and 76er/King/Net/Cavalier...he's a two-sport journeyman!) when Andy MacPhail was still bridging the gap to the future with baling wire and Silly Putty. He spent two seasons and change in Baltimore, largely as a reliever, with middling results: 8-11, 4.80 ERA, 92 ERA+, 1.5 WHIP in 191.1 innings. The O's released him in September 2011, and he wound up sitting out the following season.

But he had a good rapport with manager Buck Showalter, and the Birds were close to his home in York, PA, so he found his way back into the organization in 2013 following a tryout. Mark had developed a new sidearm delivery at Showalter's urging, and it was good enough to earn him a minor-league deal. Though he pitched well at AAA Norfolk (3.06 ERA, 1.06 WHIP in 40 relief appearances), the Orioles did not call him up during the season. They expressed interest in retaining him as a coach, but not as a pitcher, so he went back to York, suiting up in 2014 for the Atlantic League's Revolution club. He further honed his sidearm style and was even better, putting up a 1.54 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and nine saves for the Revs.

That brings us to the present, as the now-40-year-old Hendrickson is throwing submarine-style and has once again tried out for Buck and the Birds. According to Roch Kubatko, the team is "leaning toward" inviting him to spring training. They're still interested in acquiring his services as a pitching coach, when (or maybe if) he does decide to retire. I'll always root for an underdog, and there are few players with stories as unusual as Mark Hendrickson's. But I've almost overlooked the newest twist: Mark's also a new grandfather. Viva Mark Hendrickson.

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