Oswalt is out to reclaim his spot in the game and formerly excellent rep

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Former pitching star recently signed a deal that will guarantee him a flat $1.5 million if he makes it to the majors, and a bit over $4 million if he hits his incentives. But Oswalt’s real incentive has nothing to do with money.

While he mostly aims to show he can still pitch, it’s true a decent, drama-free year in Colorado could also help him reclaim his once pristine rep, which took a bit of a hit after two missed spring trainings, cameo appearances in the majors, a 10-day sabbatical in Philadelphia and a negative overall experience in Texas. Word is, he is taking this chance very seriously and wants to keep pitching in the big leagues beyond this year, spring trainings included.

“Life changes, and sometimes you appreciate your profession a little bit more after you’re away from it,’’ Oswalt’s agent Bob Garber said by phone about his client.

Oswalt was seen as a quiet and consistent star in Houston. While there, he led the league in ERA, wins, winning percentage and he also led twice in games started, showing his great talent, durability and commitment. Six times he finished in the top six in Cy Young voting, including part of his first year in Philly, when he was magnificent. He’s still only 35, so time’s on his side.

But in the last couple of years, longtime baseball people haven’t appreciated his late starts, seemingly picky taste in team choic keen to become the latest Arsenal Invincible to return to the North London side – with the Brazilian open to a coaching role under caretaker manager. Freddie Ljungberg.”For me, as an ex-player, it is amazing when there is some link to the club,” Gile and an inability to fit into a Texas clubhouse that’s seen as a positive environment.

The half-year approach particularly didn’t sit well with some veteran baseball people.

“He thinks he’s Roger Clemens, and he’s not,’’ one baseball executive said.

It’s not like Oswalt is unaware he’s picked up skeptics the past couple of years. He passed on a couple earlier offers but so impressed Rockies executives Bill Geivett and Jeff Bridich they practically signed him on the spot.

“He’s got things to prove, and he’s ready,’’ Garber said. “He’s not going to come back and embarrass himself.’’

Rockies people were impressed by not only his bullpen sessions but also his shape. And they listened to his version of the Texas time. In the end, they need a starter, and they’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. General manager Dan O’Dowd said the session was indeed impressive but will go into the relationship with his eyes open.

“For us, it’s a low-risk gamble,’’ O’Dowd said. “We’re making a half-year commitment.’’

Garber is indeed correct that Oswalt has something to prove. He received some glowing media reports for leaving the for 10 days in early 2011 afted he will leave Atletico Madrid this summer.AS says Manchester City are ready to meet his release clause, but Atletico are thought to be doing everything they can to keep him.But Rodrigo has decided to leave the Wanda Metropolitano in light of the inr a Tornado swept through his home area of Choctaw County, Miss., but right or wrong, many baseball people wondered why he needed so much time when there was no damage to his own home. That was nothing, though, compared to how many have responded negatively to his mid-year arrivals the last couple of years.

It also didn’t help that word got out that Oswalt didn’t fit into the clubhouse, the same clubhouse that welcomed and enjoyed previous mid-year pickups, from superstar to spare outfielder . Oswalt allegedly told folks felt rushed to the big leagues (though quotes from Oswalt saying the opposite last summer were found by @lonestarball). Then later, Oswalt disagreed when they wanted to move him into the bullpen.

This didn’t create a strong impression since Texas had been to the World series two years running. Overall, he went 4-3 with a 5.80 ERA, with nine starts and eight pen appearances

“He did fantastic in Philadelphia. Texas is a blip,’’ Garber said. “It didn’t work out last year. He’d like to pitch in the future for a bit, and he’s not going to be skipping spring training in the future.’’

ted defender Chris Smalling says “consistency” will be key next season.Smalling admits finishing sixth last season wasn’t good enough.”I think consistency,” he told ManUtd.com of what must improve. “Obviously since Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer) has come iThat’d be a big boost to his chances to come back next year. Word had spread two winters ago that Oswalt only wanted to pitch in St. Louis, Houston or Texas in the months before he chose to go with his old friend from the , Nolan Ryan, the Rangers’ CEO (Texas’ baseball department was said not to favor the signing from the start).

Oswalt did take a chance by rebuffing a couple of previous offers this time before going to Colorado, which isn’t exactly known for being a pitchers’ paradise. They do want him only to start, O’Dowd said, which can’t hurt matters.

“It’s a good fit,’’ Garber said. “He’s always had a thing for Denver and Colorado. He’s an outdoorsman at heart. It’s very team-oriented. They did a good job of letting him know they wanted him.’’

O’Dowd is hopeful that their cohesive clubhouse will help him (though the Rangers are known for the same). “We have strong support. The guys have been together for a long period of time,’’ O’Dowd said. “I do think players mold to the environment they’re put it, and we think we have a pretty good environment here.’’

The scene is set. It’s up to Oswalt to prove that last year was an aberration and to regain his form and his rep. It’s fair to say this is probably his last chance.

 

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