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10/10/07 Journeymen Starters Part 1...plus "This Day In DC Baseball History."

    Mountain View, California native Jason Simontacchi was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 21st round of the 1996 MLB Amateur Draft out of the Albertson College of Idaho. The six-hundred and nineteenth player taken that day, Simontacchi signed quickly with the Royals but was released a year later, and would not make his Major League debut until six years after being drafted, when the right-handed sinker-specialist caught on with St. Louis.

     On May 2, 2002, a debuting Simontacchi lasted 7.0 innings and allowed 5 hits and 2 ER's, with 1 walk and 4 K's to earn his first Major League victory over Atlanta in St. Louis' Old Busch Stadium. Simontacchi was awarded the National League Rookie of the Month Award the next month for going (3-1) with a 3.14 ERA in 5 starts. The MLB Press Release for the award traced Simontacchi's long journey to the Major Leagues:

     ..."Simontacchi has pitched in the Kansas City, Pittsburgh and
     Minnesota organizations...the independent Frontier League,
     the Italian Professional League...the Venezuelan Winter
     League. He also pitched for the Italian National Team at the
     2000 Olympic Games in Australia, compiling a 1.17 ERA."

     Simotacchi would go on to finish his rookie campaign with St. Louis at (11-5) with a 4.02 ERA, and in his second season, Simontacchi started 16 and appeared in 36, posting a (9-5) record with a 5.56 ERA, but after appearing in only 13 games in 2004, Simontacchi suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder and was forced to miss the entire 2005 season after which he was released by the Cardinals.

     Simontacchia appeared in 10 games in 2006 for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the East Coast based Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, going (1-0) in 10 appearances with a 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings, and allowing 6 hits and 1 run while walking 1 and striking out 10.

     Apparently the Atlantic League was high profile enough to earn a non-guaranteed Minor League contract from the Nationals in the winter of 2006, as the Nationals cast their nets wide and signed almost every available Minor League free agent they could find.

     Simontacchi was on his way to Washington's starting staff when he suffered a groin injury late in Spring Training which kept him from pitching for the Nationals until May 8th in Milwaukee. The right-hander lost his first start, but over the next three months Simontacchi held a regular spot in the rotation, going (6-7) with a 6.37 ERA before landing on the DL with "right-elbow tendinitis" which sidelined Simontacchi for the remainder of 2007.

     Jason Simontacchi will be 34 when the Nationals start Spring Training in 2008. With only 43 Major League starts on his reconstructed arm, at thirty-four, what can the Nationals expect out of Simontacchi? Is he worth another look next season? (26-17) lifetime, Simontacchi's always been successful, but after 12 years of trying, what are the chances he finally puts it all together in the Majors in '08?

This Day in Washington Baseball History...(The Continuing Attempt To Educate A Montreal Fan About DC Baseball History)...

     October 9, 1924. The Washington Senators, facing World Series elimination at the hands of the the New York Giants after Walter "Big Train" Johnson had lost Game 5, turned to then 28-year-old left-handed starter, Jonathan Thompson Walton Zachary, who was apparently known as Zach Walton in 1918, but was, in 1924, going by the name Tom Zachary.

     Zachary got a complete game win in Game 6 in Washington's Griffith Stadium, pitching 9 innings of 7-hit, 1-run ball against Freddie Lindstrom, Frankie Frisch, Hack Wilson, and the 1924 New York Giants. Curly Johnson started Game 7 for the Senators, and the Great Walter Johnson came back on to pitch the ninth and stayed on for four more innings to get the 4-3 win and Washington's first ever World Championship.

     Walter Johnson's name is synonymous with Washington Senator's baseball, but he never would have had the chance to nail down Game 7 and solidify his place in DC Baseball History if it hadn't been for Tom Zachary's Game 6 win. Zachary's name however, much like Nationals starter Mike Bacsik's will be, is best known for having surrendered a record breaking home run... the then-record 60th home run of the 1927 season to... George Herman "Babe" Ruth.