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Jose Contreras

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Jose Contreras

This article is about the baseball player. For other people named José Contreras, see José Contreras (disambiguation).
José Contreras
Free Agent
Pitcher
Born: (1971-12-06) December 6, 1971 (age 42)
Las Martinas, Pinar del Río, Cuba
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
March 31, 2003 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
(through May 27, 2013)
Win–loss record 78–67
Earned run average 4.57
Strikeouts 889
Teams

Career highlights and awards

José Contreras
Medal record
Men’s Baseball
Competitor for  Cuba
Summer Olympics
Gold 1996 Atlanta Team
Silver 2000 Sydney Team
Pan American Games
Gold 1999 Winnipeg Team
Baseball World Cup
Gold 1998 Rome Team
Gold 2001 Taipei Team
Intercontinental Cup
Gold 1995 Havana Team
Silver 1997 Barcelona Team
Central American and Caribbean Games
Gold 1998 Maracaibo Team

José Ariel Contreras Camejo (born December 6, 1971) is a right-handed Major League Baseball pitcher. He previously played for the New York Yankees (2003–04), the Chicago White Sox (2004–09), the Colorado Rockies (2009) and the Philadelphia Phillies (2010–12), as well as the Cuban national team.

Cuban career

In addition to his time with the Cuban national team, Contreras pitched for the Pinar del Río Vegueros of Cuba's Cuban National Series. In his last season in Cuba (2001–2002), he went 13–4 with a 1.76 ERA and 149 strikeouts.[1] Contreras was named Cuban Athlete of the Year on three separate occasions.

In March 1999, Contreras pitched for the Cuban national baseball team against the Baltimore Orioles in an exhibition series at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana. Contreras pitched eight shutout innings and struck out ten. It was then that Major League scouts took notice of the Cuban pitcher.

Major League Baseball career

New York Yankees

Contreras defected from Cuba in October 2002 while pitching for the Cuban national team during the Americas Series in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico,[2] leading the Yankees to sign him to a four-year deal on December 26, 2002.[3]

Contreras went 7–2 and posted a 3.30 ERA, but he spent two months on the disabled list with a subscapularis strain, had four stops in the minor leagues, and was in and out of the bullpen. While a starter, Contreras was 6–1 with a 2.34 ERA. Out of the bullpen he was 1–1 with a 7.43 ERA. His best game occurred on September 23 at U.S. Cellular Field, in which he shut out the White Sox for eight innings while striking out nine. Contreras would also appear in the 8 postseason games 11 innings total, with a 5.73 ERA striking out 17.

The Yankees inserted Contreras into the starting rotation from the start of the 2004 camp, but he was inconsistent. Contreras was optioned to the minor leagues for approximately a month (May 5 through May 21). His best start occurred on June 27, against the New York Mets. He struck out ten batters, but what was more important to him is that for the first time since being in Cuba, Contreras got to pitch in front of his wife, Miriam and daughters, Naylan and Naylenis.

Chicago White Sox

On July 31, 2004 Contreras was traded to the White Sox for pitcher Esteban Loaiza.[4] Contreras would pitch inconsistently for the White Sox, up until the end of the season. On the last day of the season, he threw eight innings of two hit baseball earning his 13th win of the season. He would finish with a 5.50 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 170 innings between New York and Chicago.

The 2005 season began with mixed results for Contreras. Contreras started the season with five consecutive no-decisions and an ERA of 3.04, and but pitched poorly after that until the All-Star break, with a 4–3 record. The first game after the break (July 14), Contreras pitched extremely well, beating the Indians 1–0.[5] As the White Sox raced to the playoffs in the second half of the 2005 season, Contreras became Chicago's most reliable pitcher, winning his last 8 starts and on occasion halting the team's losing streaks. One of the main reasons was the way he pitched. With the help of fellow Cuban Orlando Hernández, Contreras began dropping his arm angle during his delivery. Contreras would also contribute the 3 postseason victories that tied Andy Pettitte for the most second half victories in the Major Leagues with 11, and he threw his first Major League complete game against the Minnesota Twins, on September 23[6] Contreras would finish the season 15–7 with a 3.61 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 204 innings.


Contreras started Game 1 of every series during the playoffs. He would win two of the three Game 1's. The one he lost was to the Los Angeles Angels, this allowed Contreras to earn the win in the pennant clinching Game 5, the fourth consecutive complete game for White Sox starting pitching. Contreras would go 3–1, with a 3.09 ERA, 14 strikeouts, and only two walks. During Game 1 of the 2005 World Series, television commentators said that Contreras, who started the game for the White Sox, had his name banned from being mentioned in Cuba by order of President Fidel Castro. White Sox games were also banned from Cuban television and could be seen only with illegal television satellites. The White Sox went on to win the World Series in 4 games.

The 2006 season began with Contreras inking a three-year contract extension to remain on the South Side.[7] Contreras started the season as well as he had finished the previous one. As of July 6, 2006, he was 9–0, with a 3.31 ERA and 71 strikeouts. On June 17, in an 8–6 win over the Cincinnati Reds, José pitched 6 innings and threw a career high 13 strikeouts as he broke the White Sox team record with his 16th consecutive regular-season win, previously held by LaMarr Hoyt (1983–84) and Wilson Alvarez (1993–94). Dating back to the 2005 season, Contreras won 17 consecutive games before finally taking the loss against his former team, the New York Yankees on July 14, 2006. Contreras was named by his White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén to the 2006 American League All-Star team, but was unable to play because he had thrown 6 innings and 117 pitches in a start just two days before the All-Star game. Guillen, the AL manager, replaced him with Minnesota Twins rookie Francisco Liriano.[8] This enabled Contreras to become the first pitcher in 30 years to start 2 consecutive regularly scheduled games.

Contreras suffered setback as a case of sciatica put him on the 15-day DL in May. Along with seeing his personal winning streak come to an end, Contreras finished the season with a 4.27 ERA, including a 5.40 ERA after the All-Star break.

Contreras struggled mightily in the 2007 campaign along with the disappointing White Sox team who finished fourth place in the American League Central Division. He posted a 10–17 record with a 5.57 ERA. One positive note for Contreras were the career-high 2 shutouts recorded on May 10 against the Minnesota Twins and on September 19 against the Kansas City Royals.

Contreras ruptured his Achilles Tendon on August 9, 2008 while attempting to field a ground ball against the Boston Red Sox. The White Sox placed him on the 15-day disabled list, and Contreras ended up missing the rest of the season.[9]

After an 0–5 start to the season, Contreras was sent to bullpen status on May 9, 2009. On May 10, 2009 he was sent to the minors.[10] On May 12, 2009, Contreras cleared waivers and was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte Knights.[11] On June 8, 2009, Contreras was called up after the first game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers to start the second game.[12] Coincidentally, Jeremy Bonderman was also called up after the first game to face Contreras. Contreras threw an outstanding eight innings and only gave up one hit and one walk, with three strikeouts, resulting in his first win.[13] In his second start after a brief stint in the minors Contreras was equally, if not more, dominant than his last appearance. Notching his second consecutive victory, Jose threw eight innings of shutout baseball once again, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out eight.[14]

Colorado Rockies

On August 31, 2009, Contreras was traded to the Colorado Rockies with cash for minor league pitcher Brandon Hynick.[15]

Philadelphia Phillies

On January 28, 2010, Contreras signed a 1 year, $1.5 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.[16] He pitched out of the bullpen rather than being a starter as he had for much of his career. He recorded his first career save against the Milwaukee Brewers after taking over the closer's role from the injured Brad Lidge. On October 29, 2012, the Phillies declined his 2013 option and he became a free agent. He went 1-0 with a 5.27 ERA with 13.2 innings pitched in 17 games after spending most of the season on the disabled list.[17]

Pittsburgh Pirates

On February 23, 2013, Contreras signed a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.[18] He was released on June 13, 2013. He was re-signed on June 17, 2013. The Pirates released Contreras on July 18, 2013.

Boston Red Sox

On July 19, 2013, the Boston Red Sox and Contreras reached an agreement to a minor league contract.

See also

  • List of baseball players who defected from Cuba

References

External links

Biography portal
Baseball portal
Cuba portal
  • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)
Preceded by
Bartolo Colón
American League Pitcher of the Month
September 2005-April 2006
Succeeded by
CC Sabathia


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