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Big League Stew

Scott Rice makes Mets opening day roster after 14 years in minor leagues

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

They say that often times the journey will prove to be more meaningful and thrilling than the destination.

I'm not sure where Scott Rice will stand on that one when all is said and done, but for now the 31-year-old reliever is just thrilled that he finally — and I do mean finally — received the news he's been waiting for since being drafted in the first round (44th overall) by the Baltimore Orioles in 1999.

After 14 seasons and 480 appearances in the minor leagues, Rice has made an opening day roster and will soon make his major league debut as a member of the New York Mets.

Rice learned the news from Mets manager Terry Collins, who had been impressed with the left-hander's sinking fastball and ability to induce groundballs throughout the spring. He ended it with a 3.18 ERA in 11 innings.

Here's how Rice reacted to the news:

As always, that's easier said than done. But let's take a look at just how long his road has been.

Rice would spend the first eight seasons of his career in the Orioles organization, slowly working his way up from rookie ball to Triple-A Ottawa. Next, he moved on to the Texas Rangers, but could never rise above Double-A. In 2008 he started bouncing back and forth between stints in independent ball and short stays with the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers, before finally latching on with the Mets as a non-roster invitee to spring training.

In total, Rice has donned 19 different uniforms (the Mets will represent No. 20), including those of the Long Island Ducks and Newark Bears. He's logged 805 innings and faced 3,555 hitters. He's posted a 39-55 record to go along with a respectable 4.08 ERA. And perhaps the most impressive number I've found on Rice is that he's only allowed 36 home runs.

Indeed his sinker has proven effective, but now he gets to test to it against the best — and most patient — hitters in the world. A great challenge that will be, but regardless of how well or poorly he responds to it, this is without question one of the cooler stories to come out of spring training and it could prove to one of the better stories of the season if Rice is able to stick around and help stabilize New York's bullpen.

We certainly wish Scott Rice the best as he attempts to do just that. We also acknowledge his perseverance and congratulate him on realizing his dream.

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