Pedro Beato was shocked that Ducks manager Wally Backman still had his phone number. Shortly after the former Mets reliever was released from his Mexican League team earlier this month, Beato texted Backman to inquire about any Central Islip openings. The Ducks arms — as they often are to former big leaguers — were open and Beato, who grew up in Queens, signed Thursday afternoon.
“It’s very exciting,” Beato said. “I was lucky I pitched well for him before and he remembered me.”
Beato previously pitched for Backman in 2012 in the Mets system, tossing 37 innings in Triple-A Buffalo. He pitched in 67 games for the Mets in 2011-12 , posting a 4.67 ERA in 71 1/3 innings. Beato pitched parts of five seasons in the major leagues, also suiting up for the Red Sox, Phillies, and Braves. All 85 of Beato’s career big league appearances came out of the bullpen, but he has told the Ducks that he wants to start — something that he’s done 86 times in 14 professional seasons.
“I think baseball is going a different way right now,” said Beato, who last started in the Braves system in 2014. “I want to give myself an open opportunity to do a lot of things…Over the last three years, the least I threw was 58 games. The other years I was over 60 games. I’ve been durable. I throw five pitches for strikes. Being able to do that out of the bullpen, I wouldn’t see why I couldn’t do it as a starter.”
The Ducks are all-in on the idea of Beato as a starter. After having him throw 40 pitches before the game on Thursday, Backman said that Beato will likely start early this week against Sugar Land.
“I like the durability,” Backman said. “If you look at his numbers, even going back to last year in Triple-A with the Phillies, he threw 63 games coming out of the bullpen. He’s always been a workhorse who will take the ball for you at any time.”
Beato was 3-1 with a 4.71 ERA in 28 appearances — all out of the pen — for Diablos Rojos del Mexico this season. He struck out 24 batters and walked 12 in 28 2/3 innings and was released on June 19.
Beato said there is very little room for error in the Mexican League. While, in a general sense, MLB organizations view their seasons in two or three week sectors and don’t overreact to single games early in the year, individual games in the Mexican League are almost always viewed with supreme urgency, Beato said.
“For a whole season, going day-by-day is very long and there’s a lot of pressure,” Beato said. “…From what I saw out of the bullpen, there would be guys that would [warm up] five times in one game and pitch one, two, or three innings. I’ve never seen that before. I’ve seen closers throw three innings. You never see that in the states. You could start as a closer and maybe a week later, you’d be a setup man or a long guy.”
Tomlin Answers Backman’s Call
New Ducks pitching coach Rick Tomlin said he has so much respect for Backman that he was willing to come out of retirement to take over for Ed Lynch. The former Met resigned as Ducks pitching coach last Tuesday, at least in part because of back issues, Backman said.
“He had a bulging disc. I think the bus rides were getting to him,” Backman said of Lynch. “…He had a lot to offer. We talked about [the back issues] and were trying to get through it, but his back was bothering him so bad that I just said ‘let me try and find somebody.’ We got Rick and Eddie just stepped aside.”
Tomlin was Backman’s pitching coach in the Mets system with the Class A Brooklyn in 2010.
“I probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere unless it was with Wally,” Tomlin said. “I retired and was comfortable with my decision after 40 years in professional baseball. But when Wally calls, I answer to Wally.”