Former major league pitcher Wayne Franklin will start his third straight season with the York Revolution, one of four players signed Monday by the club.
Mike Smith, who also pitched in the majors, reliever Dan Foli and outfielder Ryan Goleski have also signed deals.
Smith has appeared in 15 major league games, and last pitched in the big leagues in 2006 with the Minnesota Twins. A back injury caused him to miss most of last season, but he recovered in time to pitch for the Brockton Rox, a member of the independent Can-Am League.
York’s pitching staff consists of six players with major league experience.
Franklin has the most history in York. He started the franchise’s first game in 2007. He combined to record a 20-8 record with 164 strikeouts and 123 walks in parts of two seasons with York. One of only four original Revolution players still on the roster at the end of last season, he is the only one to return so far this season. (Matt Dryer, Dave Gil and Jason Olson also appeared in the Revs first spring training workouts. Catcher Luis Taveras joined the team early in the regular season after being delayed by visa issues.)
Franklin should feel at home on this year’s squad, however, because York has loaded up on veteran pitching.
* Smith, 31, started 2008 in spring camp with the Cubs’ big league squad, but he failed his physical because he suffered a herniated disk — most likely when he played winter ball during each of the two prior seasons.
“I was pitching really well (in 2007), because (the injury) didn’t affect my velocity,” Smith said when reached by phone.
The injury felt more like a hamstring injury. Smith found out later a disk in his back had pinched a nerve, causing pain to run down his leg.
Released by the Cubs and on his own to find a cure for the injury, a back specialist recommended a rehab program and convinced him to put off surgery. Smith admits, the rehab took longer than expected only because he didn’t understand the injury. He originally expected a one-month program but found out very soon it would take several months to recover. Unable to see signs of improvement from day-to-day, he ultimately realized he would pitch again after noticing an improvement on a month-to-month basis.
He joined Brockton late in the year because it was close to his home in Westwood, Mass., and he returned to pitch winter ball in Venezuela from October to December 2008.
Hoping to pitch in Taiwan or Mexico this season, Smith never could find an opening.
Working out in the offseason with former Revolution pitcher Mark Rosen, Smith heard about the Revolution and contacted the team. He has also played with current Revs Jason Kershner, Dave Gassner and Corey Thurman.
* Goleski, 27, has an interesting background. He played college baseball at Eastern Michigan, the same place where York manager Chris Hoiles played. Goleski smashed 51 career homers at Eastern Michigan, breaking the home run record held by Hoiles.
“If he could break my record he must be half-way decent,” Hoiles said with a laugh.
Hoiles actually had a front-row view to watch Goleski in action with an aluminum bat. Eastern Michigan played against Bowling Green State University in Ohio when Hoiles worked as an assistant baseball coach.
“He’s a big kid, who could hit for power,” Hoiles said. “He’s put together pretty well, and he plays the game the right way.”
A right-handed slugger, he appeared to top out in the Cleveland Indians organization. He spent parts of the last three seasons in Double-A Akron, but enjoyed his best season when he broke in with the Aeros in 2006. He batted .296, hit 17 homers and knocked in 63 runs in 87 games. He also had a slugging percentage of .528. Listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, the Indians drafted him in the sixth round of the June 2003 amateur draft.
“Obviously his numbers are good, but he’s also a young player with great size,” Revolution Director of Baseball Operations Adam Gladstone said. “And he was a high draft pick, all of that added up in his favor.”
* Foli re-signed with the Revs after an up-and-down 2008 season. He left the club after spring training for personal reasons. He returned a few weeks later and by the end of the season he won crucial games for the first playoff club in franchise history.
A veteran of two Triple-A seasons, Foli throws with his arm angle at three-quarters sidearm. Entering his ninth professional season, he has a 4.47 career ERA. He pitched his best game at Newark in mid-September, holding the defending league champions to one run through six innings at Bears & Eagles Park. The game allowed York to clinch a playoff spot two days later.
Foli went 5-3 as a starter, a role he earned during the last two months of the season. He joins a pitching staff that includes six major league veterans. (Franklin, Smith, Steve Andrade, Dave Gassner, Jason Kershner and Corey Thurman all pitched in the big leagues.)
Check back to Inside Pitch later this week for a story on new Revs pitcher Mike Smith.