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by Derek Smart
While mention of Sammy Sosa's likely retirement is all over the place today, I'd rather focus on two other pieces of news, one fun, and one a little sad.
First, the fun news, which is that former Cub Opening Day hero, Tuffy Rhodes, has returned to the U.S. after a prolific career in Japan and secured a minor league deal and invite to Spring Training from the Cincinnati Reds. Now, he has little chance of making the roster, and at 37, he's likely too old to contribute much, but that doesn't make the story any less happy, and I for one hope he gets one more chance to perform on the big stage before he hangs them up.
Which brings us to the less happy news that Brooks Kieschnick - the ultimate "swing" man - has decided to call it quits. He was very effective, both as a pitcher and a pinch hitter, for Milwaukee during the first half of the 2004 campaign, before a shoulder injury mid-season caused him to miss time, and apparently, lose his stuff.
It's not so much the retirement of Kieschnick himself that I find sad - although he always seemed like the type of fun-loving guy you wanted on your team, simply enjoying the game for its own sake - as it is the idea of what he did. Not only is it valuable from a tactical standpoint to have a reliever who can be reasonably effective as both pitcher and hitter, it's just plain fun to watch as a fan, and unfortunately, his heir apparent isn't in sight.
So best of luck to Tuffy and Brooks. May you each find some fun and happiness in the year to come.