Red Sox: Former reliever Eric Gagne on the comeback trail

February 25, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers guest instructor Eric Gagne during a spring training workout at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
February 25, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers guest instructor Eric Gagne during a spring training workout at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The good news for the Boston Red Sox is they are not interested in any possible return of Eric Gagne. Gagne’s Boston career was one of bitter disappointment for all – especially Gagne. A look back at 2007 and Gagne.

This may be placed in the say it ain’t so category, but former Boston Red Sox reliever Eric Gagne is tossing out the “C” word, as in comeback. As reported on Yahoo and several other sites the 41-year-old right-hander is positioning himself for a possible return to the majors.

Gagne is a pitching instructor for the Los Angeles Dodgers and reportedly has had a pitching session with both the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres. Gagne – born in Montreal – is not sitting pitching still and will be on Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic as a hurler. Gagne had also served as pitching coach for the French entry in the WBC of 2013.

For Gagne, this is not his first comeback. In 2010 Gagne was signed by the Dodgers, but never appeared in a game. From a personal perspective, I saw Gagne pitch in the independent Can-Am League in 2009 when he was a member of the Quebec Capitales. Gagne also briefly pitched in independent ball in both 2015 and 2016.

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Two issues that have plagued Gagne are how prone he has been to injury and being mentioned in the Mitchell Report for PED use. Gagne has admitted using over a three-year period near the end of his career – at least his first career.

Gagne won a Cy Young Award in 2003 for one of the most remarkable pitching performances by a relief pitcher. Gagne posted an fWAR of 4.7 and a 14.98 K/9 and a 0.86 FIP. From 2002-04 Gagne managed 152 saves and just six blown saves.

In 2007 the Red Sox needed some bullpen help and the Texas Rangers made Gagne available. At the time this appeared a judicious move by Boston since Gagne was in excellent form, recording 16 saves for Texas and a 2.16 ERA in 34 games. Unfortunately, somewhere between Gagne’s trip between Texas and Boston his pitching prowess was misplaced like airline luggage.

Gagne did accomplish a 2-2 record, but his ERA ballooned to 6.75. The other numbers were correspondingly depressive: 18.1 innings and 26 hits allowed. The BB/9 soared to 4.3 with the Red Sox and as the season went forward a Gagne appearance was usually greeted like a letter from the Internal Revenue Service. Gagne was a disaster. A failure.

In the postseason, Gagne made five appearances and that may on the surface seem that manager Terry Francona had developed some confidence in Gagne. Not so. This was strictly mop-up duty in games the Red Sox had total command except for one against the Indians at Fenway Park.

I remember the dread of sitting there at a tie game (6-6) and seeing Gagne trudge in from the bullpen and what was expected certainly happened. The Indians quickly got to Gagne and seven run outburst – 13-6 Indians win. In game six Gagne returned in the ninth, but Boston had a 12-2 lead and even Gagne could not destroy that.

In the World Series against the Rockies Gagne came in to pitch another ninth inning, but like his last appearance, it was just mop up duty as Boston enjoyed a 13-1 lead. That was it for Gagne and as awful as he was in 2007 he has a ring.

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In classic P.T. Barnum mode, there was a sucker found and it was the Milwaukee Brewers who signed Gagne to be their closer in 2008. The Brewers paid $10 Million for his services and Gagne soon lost his position as closer for the Brewers.