Once the closer of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, just five years later the 36-year-old righty finds himself pitching in front of crowds that dip precariously close to triple digits on some nights for the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League.
Last in the big leagues with Oakland just last year, where he posted an 0-3 record with a 4.06 ERA and one save in 31 appearances, Foulke’s sole motivation seems to be getting back to the big leagues.
“I don’t enjoy pitching in this league, and I want to use it to help me get out,” Foulke says.
Foulke came to the Atlantic League, he says, because nobody else wanted him. He felt that going to Newark gave him the best chance to get noticed. Several turned down Triple-A offers later — “that probably turned out to be a little bit of a mistake,” he says — one of those offers rumored to have been an early season overture from the Washington Nationals, and you get the sense he feels that anyone who wanted to notice would have by now.
“I don’t want to end my career here,” he said.
“It’s a little harder to get mentally prepared to pitch here, just because there’s really nothing on the line. That’s turned out to be a little bit of a struggle for me.”
Look, I understand that Foulke must be let down that he has not been picked up by a major league team. Pitching in the Atlantic League has to feel like a huge step backwards for Foulke, who pitched quite well for the Athletics last season. I don't understand why Foulke did not receive a better offer out there on the open market, but that's a moot point right now.
The question I have for Foulke is this: why turn down the AAA offers? Did he think that he could get a major league deal straight from Indy ball? Was he being overly picky with his team selection? What could he have possibly been waiting for?
Whatever the reason is, Foulke sounds absolutely miserable in the Atlantic League right now. Normally I appreciate when an athlete opens up and delivers a candid response, but for some reason, Foulke's quotes in this interview make me cringe. Between the "I don't like pitching here" line and the "nothing on the line quote", you get the idea that Keith Foulke is stuck in baseball hell just waiting for some MLB team, any team, to rescue him.
However, it's tough to think that any team would be willing to take a chance on Foulke at this point. The article goes onto state that Foulke's velocity is only the low to mid 80s, which makes me wonder if he could even be successful at the big league level.
What do you think?