Falmouth native Steve Cishek signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels this week. Cishek, who last year pitched for the Chicago White Sox, had spent spring training on a minor league deal with the Houston Astros. The right-handed pitcher opted out of his contract on March 27, saying that Houston had made it clear to him that he would not make the Opening Day roster with the Major League team.
“They told me that I wasn’t going to make the team,” he said.
Houston’s decision not to keep the veteran pitcher for the season was strange. The sidearm specialist had pitched exceptionally well all spring long.
After giving up three home runs to three batters in one inning in his first outing, he only allowed four more hits and no earned runs over his next seven appearances. He finished the spring with a 3.12 earned run average with 12 strikeouts and just two walks.
“In that first game I was tinkering with some stuff,” he said. “They said that it was my spot to lose. Last year, I just didn’t feel like myself, but this spring I felt so much better. I wanted that pressure put on me again and I went out there (determined) to make the team...I feel like I can still do this.”
Cishek said that he was very surprised that Houston did not keep him around. Overtures were made to the Boston Red Sox after that, and the team that he grew up rooting for did not show any interest either, which he said was surprising. After opting out on March 27 he agreed to terms with the Angels, for one-year at $1 million on March 29, and is reunited with former manager Joe Maddon, whom he pitched for with the Chicago Cubs.
The Angels will be the seventh sixth big league club that Cishek has pitched for. The former Falmouth High School and Post 188 American Legion star has also had stints with Miami, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and now Los Angeles.
“It’s a blessing. To get to go out and play on this team with a couple of future Hall of Famers like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and to see what they’re all about, and I’m pretty familiar with the coaching staff. It’s all great,” Cishek said.
Making the playoffs is the most important thing to the veteran. He noted that it’s been a six year drought since LA made the playoffs, and being a part of a team that ended that drought would be exciting.
He also pointed out that he is the second Falmouth resident to play for the Angels, along with Bob Allietta, who suited up for the team in 1975.
The Angels began their season last night, April 1, with a home stand against the Chicago White Sox.
This season will give Cishek 10 years of Major League service time. That will allow the pitcher to earn a full MLB pension. He needs 45 more days on a big league roster to reach the vetting date.
Cishek said that if he hadn’t caught on with a team, that he had been considering entering his name for a spot on the US Olympic team this year. Earlier in his career he pitched for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and said that putting on the uniform representing his country is one of the biggest highlights of his career.