In a relatively surprising announcement on Tuesday afternoon, pitcher/author Dirk Hayhurst tweeted the news that he'll be heading to Italy to pitch in 2012 instead of trying to catch on with another big-league team through a minor-league contract. The 30-year-old right-hander hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 15 appearances with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009. He hurt his right shoulder before the 2010 season and missed the entire year. He struggled with his comeback in 2011 and was released by the Tampa Bay Rays in August.
While Stew readers unfamiliar with Hayhurst might ask why he'd waste valuable time pitching in Italy — instead of, say, trying to reach the big leagues again — those of us who do know him know exactly why he would make this decision. Hayhurst, author of The Bullpen Gospels and the upcoming Out of My League, is not a conventional ballplayer. He thinks about life a little differently from others chasing the same dream. With his stateside chances dwindling, he's seeing a great opportunity to share a life experience in Europe with his wife, Bonnie.
As someone who has spent a majority of his career in minor-league ball, he was ready for something new. Hayhurst said as much on Twitter while breaking the news to his fans.
I'm doing the Italy thing because I want a new experience, really. I've played in, written about, & trained for Pro US ball my whole life
I was like: another year filling in a rotation in triple A, or a star, all expenses paid position in Italy wt only 48 games... easy choice.
I know most wouldn't do this, but my life isn't all about making it back to the Bigs. I want to enjoy the many options bb grants me.
Hayhurst says he'd like to play in a few different countries to see as much of the world as possible. As a big fan of his writing, that's a plan I can wholeheartedly endorse.
Indeed, I had grown a little sad after reading the final 300 pages of my review copy of Out of My League in one sitting over the holidays. The book focuses on Hayhurst's long-anticipated promotion to the major leagues with the San Diego Padres in 2008 and I knew that his future struggles with injury wouldn't make for equally uplifting copy.
But since Hayhurst is a master of putting us on his shoulder for the ride, the idea of being able to sit shotgun for his "Jim Bouton meets Hunter S. Thompson" look at the baseball cultures in other countries is a really attractive one. And even though we're not going anywhere near Italy with him or his wife, Hayhurst's many fans might be just as excited as he is right now.
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