Facing O's, Erickson goal is long term

Pitching against ex-team tomorrow, he's hoping to extend career 5 years

August 06, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

DETROIT - Scott Erickson won 79 games as an Oriole, but when he returns to Camden Yards with the Texas Rangers and starts against his former team tomorrow, he'll have more on his mind than renewing old acquaintances.

Erickson, 36, is trying to extend a career that has included just two appearances on a big league mound since 2002.

He missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, and the Orioles let him go as a free agent the minute his five-year, $32 million contract expired. After making two starts with the New York Mets last month - one good, one bad - Erickson was traded to Texas.

"I feel great," Erickson said this week after joining the Rangers in Detroit. "A lot of people play into their 40s, so I'd like to play another five years and, hopefully, try to get up around 200 wins. That's my goal."

Erickson, whose career record is 140-129, came to the Orioles in a 1995 trade from the Minnesota Twins and helped anchor the team's starting rotation until 2000, when he underwent major reconstructive elbow surgery.

After returning to go 5-12 with a 5.55 ERA in 2002, Erickson tore the labrum in his right shoulder and had additional surgery in March 2003.

"I'm looking forward to [returning to Baltimore]," Erickson said. "I've got some great memories there. I wish I could have done more for the organization, but this is where I'm at."

Erickson, who married former Monday Night Football sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero in February, made the Mets' starting rotation but strained his left hamstring minutes before his first scheduled start, on April 9.

He finally got his chance on July 19 and held the Florida Marlins to one earned run in six innings. But the Mets designated him for assignment after he gave up six earned runs in two innings against the Montreal Expos on July 26.

Erickson has lost about 3-4 mph off his fastball but said he expects that to eventually return. The first-place Rangers plan to keep him in their starting rotation as long as he produces.

"Obviously, he's got the pedigree and the competitiveness, and if he's healthy, we'll see," said Rangers manager Buck Showalter. "I don't think anybody comes in with any givens."

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