Joe Beimel had other offers from four other teams, but could not pass up the chance to rejoin his “hometown” club and play again for manager Clint Hurdle.
Beimel today signed a minor league contract with the Pirates and got an invite to spring training. If he makes the big league club — a good bet, considering the Pirates’ lack of lefty relievers — he’ll make $1.75 million with a chance for up to $300,000 in incentives.
Beimel, 33, grew up in St. Mary’s, Elk County. He was drafted by the Pirates in 1998 out of Duquesne University and made his big league debut with them in 2001.
“It’s nice to be coming back home,” Beimel said. “I grew up rooting for the Pirates, so if this is the year they turn it around, I want to be part of it. It would be really special for me and my family.”
Beimel is at his home in Los Angeles, where he trains in the offseason. Last summer, he bought a house in St. Mary’s and he plans to stay there at times during the season.
“I love PNC Park,” he said. “It’s by far the best park in the big leagues. It’s a great place to pitch. That’s another reason I signed with the Pirates.”
Beimel also has pitched for the Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies. Hurdle managed the Rockies in 2009 when Beimel was there.
“I really respect him,” Beimel said.
Over 10 seasons in the majors, Beimel is 25-31 with a 4.16 ERA. He has made 532 career outings, including 23 starts (all with the Pirates in 2001-02).
“Back then, I didn’t really know what kind of pitcher I was,” Beimel said. “Now, I’ve learned how I can be successful. The best thing for me is to try to get a guy to put the ball in play early in the count. I’m gonna go right at guys, throw strikes and get them to put the ball in play.”
Beimel’s contract includes a clause that allows him to become a free agent if he’s not on the Pirates’ Opening Day roster. The Pirates offered him a major league contract, but he opted instead for the minor league deal because it had a larger payout. “It was worth the risk for me,” he said.