This past Sunday, 40-year-old Blue Jay Ramon Ortiz suffered the worst fate a pitcher could imagine. In the third inning of a start against the San Diego Padres, Ortiz threw a 76 m.p.h. off-speed pitch for a ball and quickly collapsed on the mound.
At first it seemed as though Ortiz’s knee simply buckled on him, but when he ignored the catcher’s attempt to return the ball it was clear something more serious was happening.
As his teammates, Blue Jays coaches and staff rushed to meet him on the mound Ortiz turned his back to home plate and spiked his glove.
When a 40-year-old pitcher is that disappointed, there’s probably only one reason: Ortiz knows he likely just suffered a career-ending injury.
As his teammates huddled around him Oritz threw down his hat and cried.
Forty-year-olds don’t usually come back from elbow surgery.
It starts to get dusty in the room when Ortiz stands up and begins walking toward the Blue Jays dugout, sobbing uncontrollably and wiping the tears out of his eyes with his jersey.
Every major leaguer reaches a point where they realize they can’t play this game forever, but rarely if ever does it happen on the diamond during a game. In many ways it’s more gut-wrenching watching this happen to a player like Ortiz, a journeyman with a career 4.95 ERA who fought for every inch in a game he loved — a game he wasn’t ready to give up — than it would be to see it happen to a star.
h/t Barry Petchesky at Deadspin.