Left-hander Randy Keisler was at a crossroads in his life and his career between 2008 and ’09.
He had 50 games in the Majors to his credit with brief stints with five clubs. After the ’08 season, Keisler succumbed to a second shoulder surgery.
“I had been pitching hurt for a long time, for years,” he said. “I couldn’t throw anymore, so I shut it down at the beginning of August, knowing I was going to be a free agent. I was kind of scared about that.”
Keisler rehabbed on his own and briefly pitched for an independent team in ’09.
“At the time back then, I was going through a divorce that was real bad,” he said. “I’d just had my first son. The economy’s the way it is … all I know is baseball, it’s all I’ve ever done. Someone was depending on (me) now.”
Keisler pitched for two more independent teams and Laguna of the Mexican League in 2010, putting up solid numbers that still did not earn a phone call from a Major League organization.
“I was putting calls in every two weeks to every organization on my own, just trying to ask them to give me a chance,” he said.
Keisler finally got offers to try out for the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers at the start of Spring Training in February.
Three days before he left, Keisler’s father suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.
“My No. 1 supporter my whole life has been him,” Keisler said. “He was the one never saying quit, never saying give up.”
From his bed in the intensive care unit, Keisler said his father told him to go to Arizona.
While the Brewers’ tryout would be 1-on-1, Keisler knew there would be a few other players at the Dodgers’ tryout.
“I get there and pull up at 8 in the morning at Camelback Ranch,” he said. “I see 100 cars and people everywhere. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on? There’s 250 people at this tryout.’”
Luckily for Keisler, one of the coaches present was Trey Hillman, who had managed the lefty at Triple-A Columbus in 2000 and ’01. Hillman introduced Keisler to assistant general manager Logan White, who watched him pitch and offered him a contract.
“[The Brewers] were interested in signing me, too, but I just liked how Logan was,” Keisler said. “He seemed enthusiastic about having me. For the first time in [a while], it felt good.”
Keisler now toils for the Albuquerque Isotopes. He was named PCL Pitcher of the Week for June 6-12, when he won both of his starts on the road. One of them came in Round Rock, where Keisler’s 3-year-old son got to see his father pitch for the first time.
“Those four days with him in the ballpark with me … that was one of the best times I’ve had in baseball in 13 years,” he said.
Randy had a big night last night. Good for him. Gotta give the dude an “A” in terms of hanging with it…after all these years.