Blue Jays: On This Day in 2004

CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 7: Pete Walker /

After years of bouncing around various minor league systems, the pitching guru we know as Pete Walker has finally found his place within the diverse and progressive coaching staff of the Toronto Blue Jays.

On March 5th, 2004, the Toronto Blue Jays released right-handed relief pitcher Pete Walker, a journeyman hurler who would eventually become very important to the club’s success in the mid-2010s.

At the time, Walker, 35, had just come off a disappointed and disjointed 2003 season in which he pitched for the Jays at the MLB level, the Syracuse SkyChiefs at the AAA level (a team which also featured Jayson Werth and Eric Hinske), and the New Haven Ravens at the AA level.

In 70.2 innings that year, he pitched to a combined 6.87 ERA in those three leagues, with a dreadful WHIP and BB9 numbers. After moderate success with the Mets and the Padres earlier in his career, and several years of bouncing around the minor league systems of the Red Sox, the Rockies, and the Mets, it seemed that his career was almost over.

His days as a player weren’t over yet, despite his struggles at all levels. After a short stint with the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Japanese Central League following his release, Walker re-signed with the Blue Jays in February of 2005. Walker was pretty solid in his comeback season, tossing 84 innings with a 3.54 ERA appearing in 41 games out of the pen. In a 2005 season in which Toronto finished 3rd in the division with an 80-82 record, Walker was worth 1.6 WAR.

After shoulder surgery in July of 2006, he would then re-sign with the Jays again the following winter, eventually being released by the club for a second time in March of 2007. The Beverly, Massachusetts native would finish off his career with a month-long term with the GCL Yankees in June of 2007.

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After a few years off the grid, Walker returned to the Blue Jays as the pitching coach for the 2011 New Hampshire Fisher Cats. After the Fisher Cats won the Eastern League title, Walker was hired as the bullpen coach for the Blue Jays. He then was appointed as the pitching coach for the big club in November of 2012.

Since then, Pete Walker has been lauded as a fantastic addition to the major league coaching staff, with many pitchers praising his patience and knowledge of the game of baseball. Since his hiring, the Blue Jays have put together some of the best pitching staffs in the history of the franchise.

Today, Walker is set to begin his 7th season as the major league pitching coach, with an incredibly talented group of young pitchers that have the potential to sit atop baseball’s best. He continues to serve alongside Demarlo Hale as John Gibbons’ right-hand man and assistant strategist in close games and always brings integrity and class to the team.

Next: Blue Jays Injury Updates

Despite a whirlwind playing career that had him constantly on the move, Pete Walker has now found his place in the baseball industry as a sage advisor and mentor to young pitchers north of the border. It may sound cheesy, but sometimes failure can be a good thing, especially if it leads to another job somewhere down the road.