Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ex-Twins watch: Kevin Slowey

Kevin Slowey
attended Winthrop
University on an
academic scholarship.
At the age of 31, it's on to the rest of his life for Kevin Slowey.

The former Twins pitcher was in training camp this spring with the Philadelphia Phillies and was released at the end of March. Nobody picked him up. On Tuesday it was announced that he's taken a job with the players union as a special assistant to director Tony Clark.

Slowey, who has impressive academic credentials, has a background with the union -- while with the Marlins he was placed on the pension committee as the National League representative. So it's not a huge surprise that the union found a place for him on its staff.

As a pitcher, Slowey was one of my faves, what some Baseball America writers refer to as a "personal cheeseball." In his first four seasons with the Twins, he went 39-21, 4.41, with three straight seasons of 10 to 13 wins. He had almost impeccable control and decent strikeout rates despite not really having a plus pitch.

But he sustained a broken wrist near the end of the 2008 season -- the second of those four seasons -- and didn't seem to me to be quite the same pitcher after the surgery. He never so much as qualified for the ERA title in any season (160.1 innings in 2008 was his career high). Pitchers get hurt, and that was certainly true for Slowey.

And, of course, his spectacular falling out with the Twins in 2011 is, in retrospect, emblematic of the collapse of the Ron Gardenhire era. The Twins entered that season with a seeming surplus of starting pitchers; Gardy opted at the end of training camp to move Slowey to relief; a disgruntled Slowey struggled with the transition, claimed injury, and spent much of the season on the disabled list as Bert Blyleven took to ripping him during broadcasts. Put in the rotation near the end of the year, Slowey finished 0-8, 6.61. That did for him with the Twins, who traded him to Colorado for a minor leaguer who himself didn't pan out (Daniel Turpin).

I've said many times here that both sides mishandled the situation, and nobody profited by it. I'm sorry to say that, even as a Slowey fan, it is the chaos of 2011 that I remember, not the success of the previous four seasons.

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