Scott Aldred hadn't played in the majors since 1993, a sore arm and ensuing rehabilitation had seen to that.
But, when spring training 1995 came around, as others looked to replacement ball for their second shot, Aldred stayed clear.
He'd made that clear when he'd signed back with the Tigers.
"I still think I can pitch in the big leagues," Aldred told The Associated Press in February 1995, saying he had absolutely no intention of playing with replacements, "I want a chance to pitch at AAA or AA right now."
Aldred would have to wait another full season, but he would return to the big leagues.
Aldred had once been a promising young arm in the Tigers organization. He was taken by the Tigers out of high school in the 16th round of the 1986 draft. The lefty soon became one of the Tigers' top prospects, mentioned in the same breath as the Tigers' young John Smoltz.
With Smoltz traded away in 1987, Aldred took the focus.
"Scott Aldred is the best pitching prospect in our farm system," Tigers VP of player development Joe McDonald flatly told The Ludington Daily News in January 1988.
Aldred made Detroit in September 1990, pitching in four games and posting a respectable 3.77 ERA. He returned for 1991 and 1992, pitching in 11 and 16 games each. His ERA ballooned to over 5 in 1991 and nearly 7 for 1992. It was enough for the Tigers to leave him unprotected in the expansion draft that off season.
Tigers GM Jerry Walker noted the reluctance with letting a lefty like Aldred go.
"That was a definite consideration," Walker told The New York Times News Service after Aldred was selected by the Rockies. "We struggled with it for a long while. But this was the decision we felt we had to make."
Aldred's stay in Colorado was brief, five games, before being picked up by Montreal off wavers. His stay with Montreal was even briefer. He injured his left elbow, an injury that required Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 1994, but was ready for 1995.
The Tigers, however, wouldn't be ready for him until '96, handing him the ball in the '96 home opener. He gave up seven earned runs. By the end of May, the Tigers let him go again, this time to the Twins.
From the start of '96 to the end of his major league career in 2000, Aldred played for four teams. In between, Aldred pitched in 48 games for the Devil Rays in '98, having the unique distinction of not recording a win, loss or a save. It was a record not broken until 2007.
But another injury, this one to his left shoulder, would quietly signal the end of his time in the majors, but not his pro career.
“All left-handers," Aldred told his hometown Flint Journal in November 2009, "seem to have nine lives in their career, and with me it was no exception. I played with a lot of teams. They’re always looking for left-handed pitching.”
Aldred went on to play AA ball with the Yankees in 2001; AAA ball with the Dodgers in 2002, the next year with the Red Sox system. His pro career finally ended in 2004, with the independent Atlantic League's Somerset Patriots.
Aldred has been a coach with the Yankees system since 2007, last year becoming pitching coach for AAA Scranton, a job he is continuing in 2014.
- Ludington Daily News, Jan. 29, 1988: Some bright prospects on Tiger farms
- Hendersonville Times-News, The NY Times News Service, Nov. 18, 1992: Rockies select experienced players
- Toledo Blade, March 2, 1995: Ex-Hen Aldred has another shot
- Owosso Argus-Press, Associated Press, Feb. 25, 1995: Aldred says he won't play with replacements
- Flint Journal, Nov. 6, 2009: 'Nine lives' in baseball lands Scott Aldred in Greater Flint Area Hall of Fame