That was pretty much it for his pitching career, as he could never find home plate again, in the majors or the minors. His 2004 season raised hopes, as he tore through three levels in the minors (23.2 innings, 0.76 ERA, 23 strikeouts and just two walks) and walked only one in ten innings in the majors during a September callup. But after throwing only three strikes in a 20-pitch appearance in spring training in 2005, he made the surprising decision to give up pitching to become an outfielder.
He played outfield in the minors in 2005 and 2006 and earned an August callup in 2007. He hit a home run in his first game back and finished the year batting .285/.328/.535 with 11 homers in 172 at-bats. There were more references to The Natural in the national media than you could shake a stick at. The next year he set career highs for plate appearances (463), hits (109), runs (65), homers (25), RBI (71), walks (42), and on base percentage (.337). He wound up playing for six teams in an eleven-year career, hitting 76 home runs--not a bad career for a guy who looked washed up at 21. In the field, he was primarily a center fielder. While a lack of control doomed his pitching career, he retained a powerful arm, as evidenced by the perfect strike he threw here (note the baserunner not budging off third):
(Video from the Baseball Prospectus Effectively Wild podcast Facebook page.)
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