Simply Baseball Notebook: Cover Stories

Pulido's Amazing Journey

October 2003

Carlos Pulido's Amazing Journey


The Minnesota Twins were in Texas, trailing the Rangers 5-1 in the 4th inning on July 29 when they made a call to the bullpen.  Out came 32-year-old Carlos Pulido, who proceeded to pitch two scoreless innings. On the surface that may seem mundane, even trivial, but to Pulido it was the culmination of a nearly decade long journey that took him across the globe.

On April 9, 1994 Carlos Pulido made his major league debut in the Twins 14-0 loss against Oakland.  After a rocky rookie season in which he posted a 3-7 record and 5.98 ERA,  Pulido returned to the Twins organization in 1995, but never made it out of Triple A.  He was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1996, but again languished in the minors.  It was the same story with the Montreal organization in 1997.

In 1998 Pulido began the season in Taiwan before leaving for the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.  From there he signed with Triple A Norfolk in the Mets organization.  After returning to Somerset in 1999, Pulido had a stint in Japan with the Orix Blue Wave and pitched in the Mexican League in 2002.

During this entire journey, Pulido insists he never considered quitting, "I always felt I could pitch and stayed in good condition," he said simply.

Pulido's career was reborn when he caught the eye of Twins minor league pitching instructor Rick Knapp during winter league ball in his native Venezuela last year. "(Knapp) asked me to sign with the Twins and said 'this is your chance to play in the big leagues again'", Pulido explained.

The left-hander was assigned to Triple A Rochester where he pitched well, posting a 12-5 record and 3.56 ERA in 25 starts before receiving a call up on July 20.  After over a week of waiting in the bullpen, Pulido pitched in his first major league game in nine years.  Only Minnie Minoso and Satchel Paige had seen longer gaps between major league service time, and those appearances were one game publicity stunts. Pulido has pitched in key situations for a team in a heated pennant race.

"I was definitely more nervous the first time I came up," Pulido said of his second major league 'debut.'  "I've pitched around the world now in places like Japan and Mexico....I think those experience have made me better."

Pulido claims to possess the same stuff that he did back in 1994, but says that mentally he is a much better pitcher today, "(I am a) much smarter pitcher now," he commented, "with all the experiences I've had, I can come into the game in any situation."

On September 3, Pulido pitched the most important innings of his career.  He entered the game with two outs in the third and the Twins trailing Anaheim 4-0.  He proceeded to shut down the defending World Champions over the next 3 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit and no earned runs.  The Twins, meanwhile, chipped away at the lead before winning the game with a dramatic, 9th inning rally.  The victory ignited the club and put them in a first place tie with Chicago.

Pulido's performance in the game transformed him from a feel good story to a contributing member of a contending club. "It gives me a lot of confidence to know that the Twins have enough faith in me to put me in a spot where I have to keep the score close," he said of the strong outing.

Even with all he's accomplished this year, Pulido knows there are no guarantees.  He's a free agent following the season, and has received no word from the Twins about a contract in 2004.  After all he's been through, that doesn't concern the journeyman reliever, however, "I just want to keep pitching the way have been," he said, "we'll see what happens next year."

-David Zingler

Pulido's page @ Baseball-Almanac.com


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