Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Cards' Reliever Rzepczynski Shows What Can Be Possible

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Cards' Reliever Rzepczynski Shows What Can Be Possible

Article excerpt

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - At the end of an afternoon of hits and giggles Saturday, with UC Riverside's baseball alumni having put the finishing touches on a 7-4 victory over the 2012 varsity at the Sports Center, the old guys stormed the field as if they had just won the World Series. Well, uh, one of their number had done just that a few months ago.

Marc Rzepczynski, a Highlander as recently as 2007, will receive his World Series ring April 13 before the St. Louis Cardinals' home opener. If the Cards had a storybook season in 2011 - 8 games out of a wild-card spot Sept. 5, overtaking Atlanta on the final day of the season, eliminating the Phillies and Brewers in the first two rounds of the playoffs and beating Texas in the World Series after one of the most memorable Game 6 comebacks ever - Rzepczynski's year was a flat-out whirlwind.

Converted to relief in spring training with Toronto, after being given the choice of being in a big league bullpen or a Class AAA starting rotation, he appeared in a career-high 71 games, 28 after the Cardinals acquired him from the Blue Jays in the Colby Rasmus deal July 27. He went on to pitch in 12 of their 18 postseason games as a key left-handed ingredient of Tony La Russa's mix-and- match bullpen.

The confetti-strewn celebration, the parade, the trip to the White House and opportunity to shake hands with President Barack Obama.. who would have anticipated all that?

Thus, Rzepczynski's presence at UCR on Saturday, although he didn't pitch in the alumni game, was yet another living, breathing example to the young pups of what can be possible.

"It's good for our players to see those guys, to watch them work at their job," UCR coach Doug Smith said. "I think it makes it somewhat realistic for them, in the sense that you look at somebody like Marc Rzepczynski, and it's not like this guy's the Incredible Hulk. He's a well-built man (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), but it's not like he's 6-6 and 240. Our guys look at that and say, 'Yeah, I could be like that.' When he was here he was 180 pounds."

Consider this as well: Rzepczynski was 8-14 in his three seasons at UCR as a combination reliever/starter, although a 3. …

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