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Friday, August 25, 2017

Rod Brewer saw 4 ML seasons with Cardinals, biggest in 1993

Rod Brewer 1990 Louisville Redbirds card
At the age of 27, Rod Brewer was informed in spring 1993 that he would make the big club out of camp, though likely as a backup, The Orlando Sentinel wrote.

He'd played well for the Cardinals the previous September, well enough for the club to protect him in the expansion draft. But, even with Brewer making the major league roster, he still wondered what would have happened in a new organization.

"As it turns out, this may or may not have been what was best for me," Brewer told The Sentinel. "I'm really pleased to be on this ballclub, but I still wonder what would have happened if I wasn't protected. I would like to think I'd have been chosen by the Marlins or the Rockies.

"But this game is weird," Brewer added to the paper. "You never know what is going to happen in baseball."

As it turned out, what happened when the Cardinals protected Brewer was that he got to play a total of 110 games in the majors that year, his fourth, spending the entire season there. In his first three seasons, Brewer had only played 62 combined.

But, released at season's end, Brewer went on to play in Japan and play professionally through 2001, but Brewer never made it back to the majors.

Brewer's career began in 1987, taken by the Cardinals in the fifth round of the draft out of the University of Florida. He played that year at rookie league Johnson City and the next at single-A Springfield.

He made AA Arkansas in 1989, then AAA Louisville in 1990. It was also in 1990 that Brewer made his major league debut, playing 14 games that September and hitting .240. He played 19 games for St. Louis in 1991, getting one hit in 13 at bats.

In 1992, though, Brewer played 29 games, hitting .301. It appeared Brewer might get a shot at the Cardinals' first-base job. Then St. Louis traded for Gregg Jefferies, The Associated Press wrote.

"You want an answer," Brewer told The AP in March. "Why? Then you start doubting yourself. Then you look at your numbers and say, "That's stupid.' But you sit back and wonder, when am I going to get my shot?"

Making the Cardinals for 1993, Brewer served as both an outfielder and first baseman. On the year, he hit .286, with two home runs and 20 RBIs. In June, as a pinch-hitter, Brewer knocked in two runs, helping the Cardinals to a 4-3 win.

Released by the Cardinals at the end of the year, Brewer went to Japan, playing for Seibu. In Japan, Brewer had to deal with pitchers who threw nothing but off-speed stuff, hardly any fastballs, he told The Philadelphia Inquirer in October 1994.

"The count can be 2-0, 3-0, and you're going to see a breaking ball," Brewer told The Inquirer. "If you do see a fastball, it's not going to be a strike. They don't challenge you like American pitchers will."

Brewer returned stateside for 1995, playing AAA ball with the Marlins and the Giants. In 1996, it was independent ball at Abilene. He started 1997 with the Indians at AAA Buffalo, but was granted his release, ending up at Amarillo.

To The Sentinel in August 1997, Brewer looked back on his brief big league career, saying the hardest part was that he wasn't getting to play every day, then seeing younger players go ahead of him.

"Right now," Brewer told The Sentinel, "I'm still looking to get back to the big leagues."

Brewer hit .320 with Amarillo that year. He was then recorded playing in the Mexican League for 2000 and 2001, ending his playing career without returning to the majors.
Originally published June 5, 2011

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