Thursday, February 20, 2014

Craig Paquette, First Time - 2222

Originally published April 1, 2012
Called up to the Cardinals that August, Craig Paquette was just thankful to be back, according to The Los Angeles Times.

He'd played in each of the previous six big league seasons, but, over the previous two calender years, he'd only gotten into seven big league games.

"Everybody says things happen for a reason," Paquette told The Times. "I feel like this is my first time in the big leagues and I'm just going out there and using what I've learned the last few years."

Paquette went on to play 48 games for the Cardinals over the next two months. He then went on to have two of his most successful seasons with St. Louis. He didn't play his last big league game until 2003.

But it was with Oakland that Paquette started his career. Taken by the Athletics in the eighth round of the 1989 draft out of Golden West College, Paquette played his first year at short-season Southern Oregon, hitting .336.

At Southern Oregon, Paquette's manager Grady Fuson saw good things in Paquette's future.

"He has a chance to be a really good player," Fuson told The Times that July. "He has some great tools and a good personality. He is not a high-and-low guy. He has an even temperament. He doesn't get down on himself when he has a bad game."

Paquette moved to single-A Modesto in 1990, his average dropping to .238. In 1991, it was AA Huntsville and, in 1992, Paquette got a look at AAA Tacoma.

In 1993, Paquette got a longer look at Tacoma. But he got an even longer one with Oakland. Debuting with the Athletics June 1, Paquette had immediate impact. In mid-June, he got an eighth-inning game-winner. Soon after, he knocked in three in a game, including a home run.

Paquette finished out the year with the big club, getting into 105 games. He hit a total of 12 home runs, though his average at .219 never took off.

Paquette got into just 14 games in 1994, but he returned for 105 in 1995, hitting just .225 with 13 home runs, and another 118 games in 1996 after signing with the Royals, Paquette hitting .259 with a career-high 22 home runs.

In June 1995, Paquette had a hot month. By June 28, he was hitting .370 with six home runs for June, The Associated Press wrote.

"I think confidence is the big thing," Paquette told The AP. "I'm going up there every time thinking I'm going to get a hit now."

Paquette signed with the Royals for 1997, getting into 77 games, his last coming by the end of July. For 1998, he signed with the Mets. He only got into those seven contests.

Traded to the Cardinals by the deadline in 1999, Paquette found a home. He got into 48 contests that year, 134 the next. In 2002, he got into 123, all the while playing both in the infield and the outfield.

In April 2000, Paquette filled in for Mark McGwire, who had a stiff back, in a game against the Cubs. Paquette ended up doing his McGwire impression and hit a home run.

"That's my job, to be ready whenever," Paquette told The Chicago Tribune afterward. "Knowing he had a bad back, and that there was a chance with the cold weather I might get in there, I was prepared."

Paquette joined the Tigers for 2002, getting into 72 games. He then got into 11 final contests in April 2003, ending his career having played in a total of 11 big league seasons.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,521
Made the Majors: 753 - 49.5%
Never Made Majors: 768-50.5%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 328
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 193

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