TAMPA – After taking a year off from baseball to revamp his delivery, Ernesto Frieri landed with the team of his dreams.
Frieri signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees that included an invite to big-league spring training.
The 31-year-old righty reliever amassed a combined 60 saves for the Angels in 2012 and 2013, but has bounced around ever since.
During the 2016 season, Frieri worked with Manuel Ezquivia – now a Cubs scout – in his native Columbia.
“He made me feel like a little baby,” Frieri said of Ezquivia, who coached Frieri when he was young. “I went back to zero. I pretended like I didn’t know anything (about pitching). I had to fix some stuff. It worked out well for me.”
Eventually, Frieri rediscovered his delivery, his deception and his confidence. He learned how to become a pitcher instead of a thrower, working on his secondary pitches.
During the World Baseball Classic, Frieri pitched well for Columbia – in one outing getting Robinson Cano to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded. “Good hitters would talk to me and say, ‘Dude, you’re back,’” Frieri said.
Now, Frieri wants to prove himself and take advantage of his opportunity with the Yankees. Other teams were interested, but once Frieri learned from his agent that the Yankees were interested, he knew where he wanted to go. “I feel like I’m dreaming. I don’t want to wake up,” Frieri said.
Frieri figures he’ll get in 2-3 innings before spring training ends. He said he’d be open to going to the minors, but hopes to open the season in the majors.
Published at Sat, 18 Mar 2017 17:57:59 +0000