The Atlantic League is full of guys like Ducks RHP Bob Zimmermann, 30, aging veterans seeking another crack at affiliated ball. Like most independent league mainstays, Zimmermann has had a well-traveled career. Drafted by the Angels in the fourth round in 2003, after a standout career at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State), the St. Louis native advanced to Double-A with the Angels and went on to spend time in the Rockies', Yankees', Dodgers' and Cardinals' organizations. This is Zimmermann's fourth season in the Atlantic League and second with the Ducks. He is 4-4 with a 4.31 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) and leads the team with 1082/3 innings pitched.
When you attended Southwest Missouri State, you had a pet boa constrictor. What possessed you to get a snake?
"I was hanging around these Australian guys. They were crazy and had all these wild pets, tarantulas and snakes. I just thought it was cool, and I got one. My teammates and I named it 'Omaha,' and it was our road to the College World Series snake. Kind of this corny little thing."
So the snake took on a life of its own?
"It traveled with us to the super regional of the College World Series. So we had Omaha with us in Omaha."
What was it like spending spring training with your hometown Cardinals in 2008?
"It was awesome being with the team I grew up watching. I got a shot to play for them. It was good times."
The disappointment when the Cardinals released you later that season?
"It hit me a little bit. I just had to pick myself up, get after it and keep on going."
What has given you the drive to stay in the Atlantic League for four seasons?
"I believe in my heart that I still have a chance to get back to affiliated ball and someday make the major leagues."
The most talented teammate you've ever played with?
"Just raw talent, probably Rickie Weeks. I played with him on a college summer league team. He was so athletic and had so much power."
Most intimidating hitter you have faced?
"Geoff Jenkins. He had this giant leg kick. I'd be pitching, and during my windup, he would be loading up with this giant leg kick. He is not a small guy, like 250 pounds of pure muscle. You were just like, 'Oh man, I don't want to throw this to him right here.' "