An old Rock Cats friend is a Minnesota Twin no more.
Minnesota native Pat Neshek, a sidearming right-handed reliever who used his excellent work in New Britain as a springboard to a major league career, was waived Friday and snatched up by the San Diego Padres.
The Twins could have held onto him because he still had a minor league option but they chose to clear a spot on the 40-man roster and relieve themselves of his $625,000 contract.
The Twins never seemed to care for Neshek’s propensity to use his collectables website/diary, “On the Road with Pat Neshek,” as a forum for expression.
While with the Rock Cats (2003-05), he made comment about the manner in which the Twins released fellow hurler Jeff Randazzo in April, 2005.
“Today we arrived in Trenton, New Jersey around 2 p.m. after a long day of sitting in traffic trying to get through NYC,” Neshek’s April 25 entry read. “Before we left we were informed by [manager Stan Cliburn] that he got a call from above and they had to release Jeff Randazzo. ... a numbers thing he stated was the reason for the release.
“It was the strangest way I have seen for a player to get released. He already had his items packed for the trip and on the bus watching his DVD. He got called off the bus and was told the news. It's really sad whenever someone is let go but Jeff's was really tough on the team.”
Last year, he used social networking on the internet as a means to dispute a diagnosis of an injury, prompting meetings with manager Ron Gardenhire and Twins medical personnel that ostensibly smoothed out the situation.
While in New Britain, Neshek was 9-5 with an ERA of 2.87 in 86 games. He gave up 110 hits and walked 42 in 125 1/3 innings while striking out 138. His deceptive stand-up, side-arming motion makes it hard for right-handed hitters to pick him up. Lefties gave him fits in the minors but he battled to fix that. He’s a stand-up guy all around.
Regardless of what anybody thinks of his communication practices, Pat Neshek was among the most refreshing young ballplayers I’ve ever met. He had so much “fan” in him that even pitching in the bigs didn’t alter, sort of a right-hander with a lefthander's personality.
I’m hopeful that San Diego will look back on his acquisition and be able to say it was a destiny-changing event. One thing’s for sure – he can get right-handed hitters out in a role as bullpen specialist.