Octavio Dotel has played for more major league baseball teams than any other player in the history of the game. But now, a colorful career spanning 15 seasons with 13 different clubs, and a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2011, may be coming to an end.
Dotel was arguably the Tigers best reliever in 2012, pitching 58 innings in 57 appearances, posting a WHIP of 1.07 with an adjusted ERA+ of 12. He struck out 62 batters and walked just 12 for the season. He worked in a set up role in advance of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde, helping the Tigers on their way to an American League Pennant.
The Tigers signed Dotel to a one year, $ 3.0 million contract for the 2012 season, with a club option worth $ 3.5 million for 2013. They picked up the option after the 2012 season, and had him penciled in for set up duty with rookie Bruce Rondon expected to take over the closer’s job. He’d have been the favorite candidate to be the closer if plan A didn’t work out, since he led the team starting the season with 109 career saves.
Dotel felt discomfort in his pitching elbow in April, making just six appearances for a total of 4.2 innings with the Tigers, giving up five runs in his final appearance on April 19 which inflated his stats. He was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his elbow and hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since.
Throughout the 2013 season, Dotel and the Tigers felt that he would be able to return to action. A visit with Dr. James Andrews in May showed no structural damage, yet he was unable to pitch. He was transferred to the 60 day DL on June 8, and didn’t begin a rehab assignment until the beginning of August. His rehab was transferred to Toledo on August 26, and the club felt that he would be able to help out in September.
He was taken out of his first rehab appearance with Toledo after being hit by a line drive in the hip, and was again taken out of the game on Friday with discomfort in his forearm, which was said to be a different injury than the elbow that had kept him out all season.
Jason Beck of MLB.com had this quote from Tiger President and General Manager Dave Dombrowski:
"I'm not really sure where that stands as we talk right now," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We're still visiting on that situation. If he (Dotel) was healthy, he would have been with us as of Sept. 1, but right now, I do not know where that stands."
Beck followed up with a tweet on Dotel’s status on Sunday:
Leyland: Octavio Dotel likely shut down with forearm tightness. Gotta wonder if this is it for him.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) September 1, 2013
Dotel will be a free agent after this season. He will be 40 in November, and is likely to only be offered a minor league contract with incentives. Don't be surprised if he's in Lakeland next spring. He's not one to give up easily.
If Dotel is indeed shut down for the season, he can still help out his old team. Since he is eligible to be on the post season roster, any player who was in the organization as of August 31 would be allowed to take his place.
Dotel was signed to his first pro contract by the New York Mets in 1993 as a free agent from the Dominican Republic. His father was murdered in a Taxi Cab in his native Santo Domingo shortly thereafter. Octavio made his debut in 1999 with the New York Mets.
If this is the end of Dotel’s major league career, it is one that he can be very proud of.
He pitched a total of 975 innings, including appearances in ten post season series, with an ERA of 3.78, a WHIP of 1.23, striking out 10.8 batters per nine innings, and he has earned total salary in excess of $ 41 million. Not bad for a kid from Santo Domingo.
Here are some of Octavio Dotel's (regular season) career statistics:
American League: 9
National League: 9
Games played: 758
Games per season: 65
Games Started: 34
Games Finished: 305
Batters Faced: 4024
Dotel Trivia: Dotel was one of six pitchers that included starter Roy Oswalt, to throw a combined no hitter against the New York Yankees, on June 11, 2003. The cast also included future closers Brad Lidge and Billy Wagner. The catcher was former Tiger Brad Ausmus.
The game marked the first time that the Yankees had been no hit in Yankee Stadium in over 50 years, since the Tigers' Virgil Trucks shut them down in 1952. Dotel also had the distinction of striking out four batters in his inning of work, in the eighth inning. It was the first game that the Houston Astros had ever played in Yankee Stadium.