Joe Beimel Starts 9th MLB Year in Washington

Duquesne Hall of Famer Joe Beimel, a left-handed reliever, begins his ninth Major Leauge Baseball season Monday with the Washington Nationals. Beimel spent that last three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1998, Joe was the first Duke ever to be selected in MLB's First Year Player Draft when he was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Joe Beimel, from St. Mary's Pa., signed a one-year $2 million free agent contract on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Washington manager Manny Acta sought Beimel to be the Nationals' eighth-inning reliever.

Beimel, 31, will pitch between closer Joel Hanrahan and right-hander Saul Rivera, who will be used most often in the sixth and seventh innings.

"Joe is effective against left-handers and right-handers. He can pitch late in the game. He has been in the playoffs and all that stuff," Acta told "We are thrilled to have him, especially in our division. The opposing clubs have good left-handed hitters and this guy is going to help us out."

"I could feel it from our players as soon as they found out about the news," the Washington Post reported Acta said, speaking about the effect of the signing. "They were very excited. Things are getting better quicker than we thought."

Beimel, an eight-year veteran, went 5-1 with 12 holds and a 2.02 ERA in 71 appearances in 2008 with the Dodgers. He started the season as a late-innings reliever, but became a left-handed specialist after the All-Star break. His 2.02 ERA ranked ninth in baseball among relief pitchers making at least 50 appearances, fifth among middle relievers, and second among left-handed relief pitchers.

Beimel holds runners very well (26 stolen bases allowed in 50 attempts during career) and has stranded 71 percent (188 of 266) of the inherited baserunners during his career.

Beimel began his big league career with the Pirates in 2001 and served one-year stints with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays before joining the Dodgers in 2006. He is 21-23 with 55 holds, three saves and a 4.31 ERA in eight big league seasons. He also started 23 games with Pittsburgh in 2001 and 2002 and has a .233 career batting average, .948 in the field.

Beimel led the Dukes in wins (6), appearances (14), innings (65) and complete games (4) as a senior in 1998. He was second on the squad with 39 strikeouts and third in ERA at 4.71. He was inducted into Duquesne's Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. He transferred to Duquesne from Allegany College in Cumberland, Md.

Joe and his wife, Emily, have two children, Andrew (1/24/97) and Claire (11/16/01).

The Nationals open on the road today against the Florida Marlins. Game time is 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Note: His jersey number is 97. Originally wearing 53, Beimel wanted a change for better luck. He chose 97 for the year his son Drew was born. Pittsburgh Penguins hockey may helped him there. Jaromir Jagr, who also played with the Washington Capitals, wears jersey number 68 in honor of the year of the Praque Spring in his native Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). Jagr is now playing with Avangard Omsk of Eurasia's Kontinental Hockey League.


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