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Baseball: LaPorte native Chris Bootcheck looking for another shot at bigs

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Updated: August 20, 2013 6:49AM



Chris Bootcheck went through an offseason of uncertainty and rejection, but he never lost confidence in himself.

It makes the success the LaPorte native is experiencing this season in the New York Yankees organization that much more satisfying.

“I think the word satisfying is an understatement,” said Bootcheck, a Triple-A All-Star pitcher with Scranton Wilkes-Barre. “My whole goal going into this year was to prove a few people right and a lot of people wrong.”

His point has been made.

Bootcheck is 9-2 for the RailRiders over 15 starts, posting a 3.40 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 25 walks.

It’s the second consecutive season Bootcheck has been selected a Triple-A All-Star, but last year was as a reliever at Toledo in the Detroit Tigers organization.

While he had 17 saves and made 40 appearances, Bootcheck was looking for a job after the season, and it wasn’t an easy process.

“I made phone calls myself and heard ‘no’ from general managers and assistant general managers,” Bootcheck said.

After several rejections, Bootcheck finally came into contact with New York Yankees scout Donny Rowland. Shortly after Bootcheck was signed as a free agent.

“He believes in me and sometimes in this game you just need a few people to believe in you,” Bootcheck said, “and that’s what I’ve had.”

Bootcheck’s best season came in 2007 with the Los Angeles Angels, when he appeared in 51 games, throwing 77⅓ innings with a 5.00 ERA.

Now, he’s a starting pitcher again for the first time since 2005, outside of some spot starts.

“I think based on my history as a pitcher, being able to be resilient and have success in multiple roles plays a huge role in creating opportunities and creating flexibility for teams,” said Bootcheck, also a Triple-A All-Star in 2009 with Indianapolis. “They can plug you into just about any situation and feel pretty good about you coming out of that with success.”

Bootcheck thought he was close to reaching his ultimate goal — a regular spot in the major leagues.

He was called up on June 14 and in his first game, ironically against the Angels, allowed one run in one inning of relief.

It was a short-lived stay in the majors, as Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was injured. It led to the need to call up a replacement, and demote a pitcher to open up the spot.

Bootcheck was the unlucky person to lose his roster spot, being waived. After clearing waivers, he resigned with the Yankees and reported back to Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Noting the Yankees are a veteran team and traditionally prefer experienced players, Bootcheck felt like they were the best fit.

“I feel like if I can get called up and get a significant body of work under my belt, I can re-establish myself at the major league level and that’s kind of the goal,” Bootcheck said.



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