it has been a long and winding road for former Kent State standout baseball player John Van Benschoten. The No. 8 pick in the 2001 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates saw a quick ascension to the major league roster in 2004. Injuries have crippled him ever since.
Van Benschoten missed the entire 2005 season with surgery to both shoulders. It wasn't until last season when he rejoined the Pirates, to less than stellar numbers.
He was once again recalled on Sunday and saw his first action of the season in Tuesday night's extra-inning loss to the Mets 5-4 at Shea Stadium. Van Benschoten was saddled with the loss after giving up two hits, two walks, a run, and balking in just 1/3 of an inning.
The poor performance could be looked at as more of a glitch than a full blown malfunction. Pittsburgh Tribune Review beat writer Rob Biertempfel says that Van Benschoten is finally regaining the velocity he once possessed.
Van Benschoten looks at pitching out of the bullpen not as a final chance, but as a building block he told Biertempfel. You can read that story here.
With the recent success of Rick Ankiel as a outfielder one has to begin to wonder if John Vanbenschoten could undergo the same conversion if injuries continue to plague his pitching ability.
Van Benschoten holds the single season home run record for both the Mid-American Conference and Kent State after he belted 31 home runs his senior season (2001). He then played out field and first base for the Flashes. He was inducted in the the Varsity K Hall of Fame in February.
If injuries continue to mount should the Pirates consider the change?