Left-hander Dallas Braden elected to become a free agent Tuesday after the Oakland Athletics gave him a choice between seeking employment elsewhere or accepting a minor-league assignment. There remains a possibility the 209 area code native still might return to the A's if he doesn't find what he's looking for on the open market, reporter Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle says.
Braden has had two shoulder surgeries since his unforgettably awesome 2010 season, when he became a regional hero by tossing a perfect game and by defending "Braden's Mound" from Alex Rodriguez and the carpetbagging New York Yankees. Since then, he's been injured and ineffective because of injuries. But that's OK, Braden says, because he knows he can still find work in Major League Baseball.
How? Very simply:
Braden has made good progress in coming back from shoulder surgery, believes he will find a job: "I'm left-handed and have a heartbeat."
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) October 30, 2012
It might be the most self-aware quote in major-league history. Not everybody likes Dallas Braden, but you probably should.
How many times has any one of you gone to a game and noticed, say, J.C. Romero come in to pitch? Your buddy leans in and asks, "How is this guy STILL in the league?" You look at your friend and reply: "Because he throws left-handed."
Having just turned 29 years old, Braden isn't *there* yet. His biggest hindrance to returning to the A's might be their ridiculous starting pitching depth. Even a healthy and effective Braden could be deemed expendable in Oakland. But somebody will want to give him a shot. How about the Yankees? Oh, irony, you'd do that, wouldn't you?
Braden also made news in September for agitating authorities at an anti-violence rally in his hometown of Stockton, Calif. His community has been beset by violence and other crime, and some of it even touched the life of Braden's spunky grandmother, to whom he has dedicated his success on the field.
Hopefully the next news Braden makes is when he makes a major-league rotation again. Mamas, just let your babies grow up to be lefties.
Big BLS H/N: Notgraphs