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Brayan Villarreal gets World Series ring despite facing (and walking) one batter

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(USA Today)

All contributions are welcomed and appreciated by MLB teams throughout the course of a 162-game schedule. Even those that may be limited or don't exactly net the best results count for something.

Just ask relief pitcher Brayan Villarreal, who despite making one lone appearance for the Boston Red Sox last season and facing only one hitter was rewarded with a World Series ring during Friday's championship ceremony at Fenway Park.

Crazy, right David Ortiz?

"Everybody who played on the ballclub last year did something to win a ballgame, so it's well deserved," Ortiz told ESPN Boston.

But is Ortiz really sure about that?

After being recalled on Aug. 19, Villarreal's only appearance came in their Aug. 20 game at San Francisco. He entered the game in a scenario every player dreams about. The score was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth. San Francisco had the bases loaded, and veteran Marco Scutaro was coming to the plate.

It's almost a no lose situation for a reliever. If he gets out of the jam, he's a hero. If he gives up a hit, well, hey, at least he didn't create the mess. About the only losing scenario would be a walk, and unfortunately for Villarreal, it was just that, a four-pitch walk to force home the winning run.

Ball four sure looked like a strike, but that's neither here nor there at this point.

Villarreal, who was acquired from Detroit in the Jose Iglesias trade, would hang around on the roster another five days but never got into another game for Boston. He was optioned to Triple A on Aug. 25, but those four pitches outside the strike zone were enough to get his name in the scorebook and on the list of players deserving of a ring.

From ESPN Boston:

"I remember it exactly," he said. "I got called up the day before I got to pitch, and I was excited to be with a new team. While it didn't go good, it didn't go as I wanted it to, but that's just how it is. I didn't get to pitch anymore, but I got the ring. They became champions, and I was happy for them."

"We were part of the team. I faced only one batter, but we shared with the team. We wore the uniform. We cheered for them, and we were right there. Anyone that is part of the team is allowed to get a ring."

It may seem a little strange, but the Red Sox set a precedent in 2004 when right-handed pitcher Brandon Puffer was added to the roster for one game in September. It turns out he wasn't needed, but just for making the 24-hour trip, Boston rewarded Puffer with a World Series ring.

A classy gesture by an organization that isn't required. Who gets a ring is all dependent on the team's policy, and can sometimes vary based on importance to the team. Sometimes the lessor contributors won't receive the fancier ring, and it's not exactly certain if Villarreal's ring matches some of Boston's bigger stars, but it's a great gesture that helps make everyone feel like an important part of the team. It may not directly help them win games, but it never hurts letting the players know their hard work is appreciated.

By the way, Villarreal is still with the Red Sox organization pitching for their Triple A affiliate in Pawtucket.

BLS H/N: Deadspin

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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