March 18, 2012

On Baseball: Despite success with Sea Dogs, Maxwell unable to find a job

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Blake Maxwell

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Blake Maxwell used his sidearm delivery to go 10-4 with 15 saves and a 2.51 ERA the last two seasons with the Sea Dogs, but the Red Sox elected not to re-sign him.

2010 Telegram File

Maxwell not only relaxed and turned his season around, he became one of the most popular players at Hadlock field.

"I always tried to do everything I could to make it enjoyable for (the fans), as well as to have as much fun and interaction with them as I possibly could," Maxwell said.

"I always felt at home in Portland. It was my favorite place I have ever played in my career."

But Maxwell would not return to Portland right away in 2010. Even though his numbers improved in 2009 and he went 7-3 after his bad start, Maxwell was assigned to Class A Salem to start the 2010 season.

No reason was given, but Maxwell's ability to pitch a lot of innings was welcomed on a Salem club full of young prospects whose innings were limited by protective pitch counts.

Maxwell was promoted back to Portland late in the season. He appeared in 11 games (seven starts) and was 7-0.

Maxwell looked like he had established some credibility. During spring training last year, he was called up to close five major league games and pitched five scoreless innings. He started the season in Portland but had hopes of moving up.

"I'm closer to the big league," Maxwell said at the time. "Just go out and give it everything I've got and see what happens."

OPPORTUNITY DENIED

Maxwell looked solid in relief at the start of the 2011 season, and the chance he was waiting for came May 5 when he was promoted to Pawtucket. Maxwell asked if he was just filling in, or would he be staying.

"They said I would be there until I showed I couldn't be there," Maxwell said. "They told me to get my car and my stuff (from Portland).

"I outpitched everybody. But then they signed Kevin Millwood. And I was holding the short end of the stick."

The Red Sox, needing starting pitching depth, signed Millwood and sent him to Pawtucket. To make room, Maxwell was sent back to Portland on June 1. Maxwell was shocked.

"It would have been different if I pitched badly," he said. "It's the hand you're dealt as a non-prospect."

Maxwell was promoted to Pawtucket two more times in June, for two days and six days. He returned to Portland both times, when relievers were sent from Boston back to Triple-A.

In Pawtucket, he had a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings. Over the past two seasons, Maxwell was 15-7 with a 2.70 ERA. Still, no organizations wants him in 2012.

"It's hard to believe I'm out of baseball," Maxwell said.

Maxwell received offers from independent league teams, but "if what I did last year wasn't good enough to get me a job in affiliated ball, then I don't think I'll be able to do anything in independent ball that will get me back either," he said.

Maxwell plans on returning to Methodist to finish his degree, while also serving as an assistant baseball coach.

He has his memories of pro ball, most of them good. For a laugh, he will click on YouTube to watch a clip of him sprinting in, especially the memorable dash he performed with catcher Juan Apodaca to end the 2010 season.

"That always brings a smile to my face," he said.

All in all, a good, albeit short, career.

"I gave it my best shot," Maxwell said.

Staff writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

 

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