September 24, 2020

Chris Coste Is 37, Has Had Elbow Surgery and Been Released But Retirement Seems Very Unlikely

June 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This is not a retirement story as I have seen implied elsewhere, but then why would anyone think a little thing like elbow surgery would put an end to Chris Coste’s playing career.  It will take more than the year off that normally is required after the so-called Tommy John operation to bring an end to what very easily could be recognized as the greatest story of perseverance for someone who battled all the way from a start in Independent Baseball to the World Series.

But before we get into the recovery and coming back at what will be the age of 38, it is key everyone knows the facts.

Coste was on the New York Mets’ 40-man roster when spring training started, but with an abundance of catchers he was traded to Washington a week before the season started.  It was around this time when Coste says he felt something with his arm that was not normal during pre-game infield practice.  This led to the North Dakota native and resident going on the disabled list before the National League season opened.  He had ligament surgery on his right (throwing) elbow some three weeks ago, and the Nationals released him Saturday.

The normal reaction, one would think, would be for an athlete to be down.  At 37, maybe out, too, at least for a catcher.  “The positive side is this surgery nowadays has such a high success rate that in the long term, it gives me a chance to possibly keep playing and playing very well,” Coste told Jeff Kolpack of The Fargo Forum.  Coste admitted, Kolpack reported, to thoughts the surgery could be a career-ending event.  That thought does not seem dominant.

“In the case of my career, things always work out,” said Coste, who first played professionally in two now defunct leagues, then talked his way into a look with the hometown Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (Northern League) for whom he ended up playing for four years.

Remember, this is the same guy who had several seasons of near misses after leaving Fargo between 2001 and 2006 with Cleveland, Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia before he ever got his first major league at-bat at the not-so-young-baseball-age of 33 from the Phillies May 26, 2006.  No one had debuted with the Phils at an older age since 1945.  He even got a hit for the Phillies in the National League Championship Series (1-for-1) and was the designated hitter in Game 1 of Philadelphia’s triumphant World Series.

Retirement?  I don’t think so.

Jon Weber’s Days With Yankees End

Chris Coste’s release could not be considered a total shock since he is injured, but the New York Yankees’ decision to drop Jon Weber seemed stunning.  Ironically, Weber also starred for Fargo although his Northern League days started a few years after Coste departed.

While Weber is 32 and is another career minor leaguer, it was less than three months ago that the spunky outfielder was declared the James P. Dawson Award winner as the top rookie in the Yankees’ major league spring training camp when his .483 batting average (14-for-29) was more than 100 points better than any of the multi-millionaires wearing pinstripes.

Weber, a left-handed hitter, started slowly at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after his disappointment at not sticking with the major league club, but he had lifted his average to .258 although he was well off last season’s pace when he hit .302 with an International League-leading 46 doubles plus 14 homers and 69 RBI for Tampa Bay’s top farm club.

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Can’t Anyone Use a .400 Hitter?

John Lindsey, whose baseball resume is similar to those of Chris Coste and Jon Weber in that they labored into their 30s without a single day in the major leagues, is continuing his .400 pace in Albuquerque, with power thrown in.  The 33-year-old first baseman, a graduate of the New Jersey Jackals in the Can-Am League, entered Thursday with a league-leading .405 average, with his closest pursuer being Kansas City’s touted Alex Gordon, now hitting .377.

The Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand has 10 homers and 44 runs batted in for 49 games while also leading the Pacific Coast League in slugging (.703) and total bases (130), and is in the top three in hits (75), doubles (23) and on-base percentage (.447).

Odds ‘n Ends

The Hawaiian island of Maui welcomed its first home games in 13 years this week with success on the diamond as Na Koa Ikaika (7-7) toppled the other new Golden League team, Tijuana twice as the visiting Cimarrones stumbled to a 2-15 record.  The only native on the Maui roster, recent New York Mets farmhand Gered Mochizuki, was one of the offensive stars.  The usual attendance line was missing from box scores although The Maui News reports 1,500-2,000 fans were at the opener and about 500 for the second game, which went 15 innings…Two teams with new managers, Quebec (Can-Am League), under Pat Scalabrini, and Yuma, AZ (Golden League), with Darryl Brinkley, both put up 10-game winning streaks recently

(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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