AZL Angels trio records no-hitter
Rehabbing righty, converted catcher part of Aug. 14 feat
In the Rookie-level Arizona League, games are played within cavernous Spring Training complexes in front of a smattering of non-paying fans.
But dramatic moments can still occur within this unglamorous and oft-neglected setting. On Aug. 14, three AZL Angels pitchers combined on a no-hitter in a 12-0 shellacking of the AZL Athletics. It was the 10th no-hitter in the league's 21-season history.
Rehabbing right-hander Jose Perez, who played for three Angels farm teams in 2008, struck out nine batters over five dominating frames. Joshua Blanco followed with three innings before C.J. Bressoud hurled a perfect ninth.
Bressoud's involvement in the no-hitter marked the highlight of what has been a most unorthodox season. The Georgia native made the Opening Day roster of the Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels and later spent time with the Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. But with both of these clubs, he was employed as a catcher.
"After I was called up to Rancho [Cucamonga], I spent a lot of time chilling in the bullpen," said Bressoud, who was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2003. "I did get a hit in both of my at-bats, though, so I was batting 1.000 in the California League. But after I was there for about two weeks, I was sent to extended [spring training]. And when that was over I was told, 'There are a lot of guys in front of you, but we want to keep you around. You've got a great arm, so we'll help you develop as a pitcher.' It was a great opportunity."
And with that, Bressoud embarked on a new phase of his professional career.
"I'm still learning something new every day, because this is a whole 'nother world," said Bressoud, who, at 24, is a good five years older than most of his teammates. "It definitely feels surreal, but at the same time it feels good to be playing and to be able to contribute to the team. Everything happens for a reason."
And there are some distinct advantages.
"Being an ex-catcher helps, because I can understand what's going on from both sides," said Bressoud, who is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA over 14 appearances. "And [pitching is] a lot less stress on my body. I don't have to block pitches in the dirt and catch [batting practice] every day. It's just a different schedule."
Bressoud's pitching career is barely a month old, and already he has taken part in a professional no-hitter.
"It's still a really genuinely unique experience, regardless of where it's at and what league it's in," he said. "I was just thinking 'Let's get outs and finish this game.' The no-hitter was the last thing I was thinking about."
But after the last batter of the game was retired, the reality of the situation set in.
"I never thought I'd close out a no-hitter," said Bressoud. "But I couldn't have done it without the two guys who came before me. Perez, he was just ridiculous that night."
The end result was a night that those involved will not forget. And neither will the fans, such as they are.
"We have three people who come to every game," said Bressoud. "Those are our diehard fans, and that's our crowd. But, hey, at least we're playing."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.