Don’t call it a comeback. According to Roy Oswalt, he never really quit baseball in the first place.
Oswalt’s career seemingly has been winding down over the past couple years. He went from being a member of the Four Aces to sitting out the first two months of the 2012 season, eventually signing with Texas. It was the worst season of his career – 4-3 with a 5.80 ERA – and it ended with Oswalt shuffling back and forth between the bullpen.
The 35 year old just couldn’t stay away from the diamond though. Oswalt signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies in May, and reportedly is close to joining the team.
"The biggest thing is the passion for the game," Oswalt said in a recent interview with ROOT Sports Rocky Mountain. "You go home and think about what you've done for 20 years, and you kind of watch it from the sideline, and you know you can still do it.
"I think that was the hardest part to get over. Seeing the guys play and watching baseball on TV made it even worse. I think the passion for the game kind of got to me, and I knew I had a good many years I could probably still play, and I want to do it until I can't do it (any) more."
Oswalt made his fifth and final start in the minors on Friday, finishing up his stint with a 2-2 record and 2.88 earned run average. If the right-hander is not on the big league roster by Tuesday, he can become a free agent. All signs point to the Rockies bringing him on board.
The Phillies are in Colorado to play three, but won’t face Oswalt this weekend. They might see him when the two teams meet again for four games at Citizens Bank Park in August however. What should they expect?
"I'm not 94 (mph) anymore," Oswalt, 35, said of the velocity of his fastball. "I'm 91, 92, and that's what I was in some of the best years of my career. Overall, I've been pretty pleased with the way I've been able to pitch."
No matter what he says, Oswalt’s best years are probably behind him, but it’s cool he enjoys the game so much that he would keep coming back for more – even if it means playing for the Rockies. Denver Post columnist Patrick Saunders believes Oswalt is "crucial" to the club’s chances to contend for a playoff spot, so at least he wound up someplace he is wanted.
>> Pitcher Roy Oswalt progressing, could join Rockies in next few days [Denver Post]
It really felt like we could've gotten this one. The Denver Nuggets are hardly pushovers, but they came into this one a 7-13 team that'd lost their last three games, and even last night they seemed fairly beatable, even for a Philadelphia 76ers team still missing Robert Covington (in additional to our usual mini-roster of absentees). But Philly's energy sagged in the third quarter as Denver caught a second wind, and they spent the final frame hitting shots that the Sixers couldn't answer. Final score: Nuggets 106, 76ers 98.
The most sobering part of the loss was that Joel Embiid finally played what would best be described as "a bad game." Not that bad, of course — even at his worst, Joel still managed 16 points and notched career-high five blocks. But he only shot 5-15 from the field, turned ball over three times, grabbed just four boards and played a large part in the sinkhole offense that the Sixers played in the late third and early fourth that ultimately cost them this one. JoJo still has trouble reading double teams and knowing when not to attack into traffic, and his frustration was extremely evident as he kept trying to do too much and paying the price for it.
Nonetheless, even with an off Embiid night and a still-slumping Sauce — officially down to Left in the Car Overnight temperature after a night of 4 points on 1-7 shooting in 35 minutes — Philly probably still coulda gotten this one. Sergio Rodriguez appears to have swiped Nik's swag at least temporarily, with a season-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting to go with seven dimes and three steals, while Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova also poured in 17 and 8 each, and the Nuggets wings were largely kept quiet for two and a half quarters. But even while struggling, the Nuggets paraded their way to free-throw line — 34 FTAs for the night, including 12 for Danilo Gallinari alone — and once they caught fire late, the Sixers just couldn't keep up.
A bummer for a team that's now lost seven in a row, and has to face the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis — their fourth game in five nights, and the first of a three-game road trip — without Embiid and also without Jahlil Okafor, out with illness. Even with the Grizz missing their own big names (no Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph or Vince Carter lately) and likely suffering from fatigue of their own after a double-OT road win last night in New Orleans, the 4-17 Sixers are gonna have a tough go matching Memphis' grit and grind tonight. Anytime you feel like Supermanning in and saving the day now would be cool, Nerlens Noel. Just sayin'.
Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.
The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.
“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."
Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries.
He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.