WASHINGTON – The Bear is back – again.
Right-handed pitcher Aaron Barrett, 32, after nearly four years away from the majors, returned to the Nationals on Sept. 7, 2019.
And after being at alternate camp in Virginia, he was summoned to the big-league squad again this week and retired five batters out of the bullpen without allowing a run on Tuesday at Tampa Bay.
“He is one of the most special human beings I have in my life,” an emotional pitching coach Paul Menhart told Federal Baseball on Thursday from Florida.
“What he has had to overcome, and now to reinvent himself and figure out what different kind of pitcher he is … it is about this kid’s un-ending desire to be the best. Such a special individual.”
Shoulder and arm problems kept him out of pro ball in 2016 and in 2017. He is not throwing as hard as he was when he broke into the majors six years ago.
“With the injuries that he has had to overcome, I could speak for hours how unbelievable it has been,” Menhart said. “The stuff is not what it was prior to all of the injuries. He is still effective to get big league hitters out.”
But it is not Hollywood stories that have Barrett back in the majors – the Nationals have been stung by injuries to several relievers.
“We need him right now,” Menhart said. “We need him to pitch in meaningful games and meaningful innings.”
Barrett was drafted in 2010 by the Nationals in the ninth round out of the University of Mississippi. He grew up in Evansville, Indiana and was friends with the family of Don Mattingly, the manager of the Marlins – who face the Nationals this weekend. Preston Mattingly, the son of the former Yankees’ first baseman, was a hoop star in Evansville, friends with Barrett and played minor league baseball and college hoops.
Barrett pitched in a total of 90 games from 2014-15 for Washington and last year led the Eastern League in saves and was an All-Star in the game played last summer in Richmond at the Double-A level.
He and his wife recently had their second child. His promotion from Harrisburg – relayed by then-manager Matt LeCroy – went viral about one year ago.