Thursday, February 18, 2010
#629) JEFF D'AMICO
Jeff D'Amico was traded by the Milwaukee Brewers along with Jeromy Burnitz, Mark Sweeney, and Lou Collier to the New York Mets in exchange for Alex Ochoa, Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch on January 21, 2002. The man nicknamed, "Big Daddy" had struggled with various injuries during his career, but when healthy performed as one of the most dominating starting pitchers in the National League. "Certainly since my injuries I have lost some velocity," D'Amico said, "so what I rely on now is my command. I can throw the ball where I want to, and I have a decent curve. And of course I try not to give up any walks." His command was evident during a successful run to start the 2002 season. Jeff threw eight scoreless innings, scattering three hits and two walks, in his first victory as a Met on April 13th. Then dominated the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 16th during a two-hit complete game shutout win.
His season took a decided turn during the month of June. The man that had been throwing well into the later innings of games earlier was now surrendering large leads early. "I have never felt this good and pitched this bad," Jeff offered at the time, "Everything feels great. I'm just not getting the job done out there." After not registering a win in eight consecutive starts by D'Amico the Mets agreed. A deal for another pitcher was made at the trading deadline, and Jeff was moved to the bullpen on August 11th. He regained success within the unfamiliar role of a relief pitcher. Finishing the season with a 1-0 record and 2.22 ERA during 16.2 innings of relief work. Leading to the speculation that his preseason shoulder surgery may have been a contributing factor to his previous struggles. "I don't know. I am sure (running into a wall) is a possibility," D'Amico said, "Physically and mentally I am right there though. I go out and I am prepared every time. There are no excuses."
D'Amico was granted free agency and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates on January 17, 2003. After retiring from the game he has been spending time with his family and coaching Little League baseball in Florida.
Jeff D'Amico signed his card in the set for me from an autograph request sent to his home on February 20, 2009.