Who could blame him, if along that long, long trail, there'd be times when he felt like the game was a guy with a bad cold and he was a Kleenex. To be used, then discarded. "You have a bad season, they get down on you," he declares. He knows. He was allowed to drift into free agency three times.
But if there were teams that dismissed him, there were always those who availed themselves of his services. He had been a lowly 32nd round draft choice of the Astros in 1995, then after a year of junior college ball, signed him the next May.
Subsequently, his itinerary was to include the Royals, Mariners and Red Sox before the Mets signed him in February 2005.
At last, somebody who truly appreciated him. And why not. He started the year in AA, did so well that he was soon promoted to Norfolk in the International League. By now, he was a reliever and by now he could get guys out with regularity .
Could he, ever. The league batted only .167 against him, his ERA was 1.02. Some scouts were declaring him the best looking pitcher in the league. No wonder the Mets called him up for a September look.
How'd it go? "The first three times were great. They told me they'd seen enough, that I wouldn't pitch anymore. So, we were in Philadelphia and I was thinking I wasn't going but we ran out of pitchers so they put me in. They tore me apart."
That eminently forgettable outing meant his major league ERA is a bloated 23.14 Still, the Mets told him they liked what they saw so he figured he'd found a home at last.
Ah, he should have known better for they dispatched him to the Dodgers in the deal that also brought Jae Seo to L.A. for Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll. "I didn't have a clue they were going to do that," he declares.
But he's not at all unhappy about the situation for he's a lefthanded relief specialist, a position that's currently vacant so he has a real chance to stick with seemingly a veteran, Kelly Wunsch, and a rookie, Hong-Chi Kuo, as his chief competitors.
Hamulack throws a fast ball in the low 90's, a curve that has slider action and a changeup. And he throws strikes consistently.
"I like what I know about the organization, "he maintains. "I'll just go out and do what I can." And if they send him out? "Los Angeles or Las Vegas, wherever. Just so long as I get a chance to pitch."
The words of a man who's been traveling that road for some time now. But he's one who'll persevere so don't ever count him out.
Hamulack May be the Lefthanded Answer
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