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Tigers' Galarraga wants more than brush with fame

Posted: June 7, 2010 2:10 p.m.
Updated: June 7, 2010 2:10 p.m.

Home plate umpire Jim Joyce, left, shakes hands with Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga while handing the lineup card on the field before the Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians MLB baseball game in Detroit, Thursday, June 3, 2010. Galarraga lost his bid for a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning on a disputed call at first base by ...

 

DETROIT (AP) - Armando Galarraga knows he will always be remembered as the pitcher whose perfect game was ruined by an umpire's blown call.


The Detroit Tigers right-hander wants to be known for more than that.

"I want to keep doing my job and have a nice life as a baseball player for more than 10 years," Galarraga said. "I don't want this to be the only thing people talk about with me."

Galarraga will pitch for the first time since his brush with fame Tuesday night on the road against the Chicago White Sox.

"He ain't throwing a no-hitter against us," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen declared.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Galarraga wouldn't have made the start if he didn't have the one-hit performance, but he will face Chicago and the other pitchers in the rotation will get an extra day of rest.

"I was skipping him in his next start," Leyland acknowledged last week.

Galarraga wants to finish the season strong - after starting it in the minors - and have a long and successful career to make his one-hit game last week against the Cleveland Indians just a part of his story.

"For sure, I want more than that," he said. "What happened with the umpire, there's nothing I can do about it."

Galarraga was at the center of a series of events that were so compelling the story transcended sports, meriting attention on national morning shows and creating a buzz on Twitter and Facebook.

With two outs in the ninth inning against Cleveland on Wednesday night, Jim Joyce emphatically called Jason Donald safe when he was in fact out as replays clearly showed and the first base umpire later admitted.

"I just cost that kid a perfect game," Joyce said somberly.

Galarraga handled the devastating moment with grace, smiling at Joyce and walking back to the mount. Unlike Leyland and some of his teammates, he didn't lash out at Joyce after the final out.

"I think he was very, very professional," Guillen said. "I swear to God, I had tears in my eyes. I think, 'Wow, this is a great thing for baseball.'"

Instead of blending in with the other 20 perfect games, including Roy Halladay's last month, the gaffe and fallout will make Galarraga more famous. While most could name many of the pitchers who have thrown perfect games, no one will forget Galarraga had one taken away by human error.

"When people talk about perfect games, my name might not be on the official list, but everyone will talk about my game," he said. "The first 28-out perfect game."

A month ago, Galarraga wasn't on the sports radar in the Motor City or elsewhere as he pitched for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens and tried to make a comeback.

The unlikely star was recalled from the minor leagues on May 16 after pitching poorly during spring training, finishing in a distant third place - behind ex-Tigers Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson - in a competition for the final spot in Detroit's rotation.

The 28-year-old native of Venezuela signed with Montreal as a free agent in 1998. He was traded by Washington to Texas as part of the Alfonso Soriano trade in 2005 and made his major league debut two years later. The Rangers dealt him to Detroit in 2008 for minor leaguer Michael Hernandez.

Galarraga had success two years ago, going 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA, then was 6-10 with a 5.64 ERA last season.

"Sometimes this game is not about ability," he explained. "It's more about focusing and concentrating."

Galarraga's next task will be staying mentally sharp with more eyes on him, following his season and career after his nearly perfect game.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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