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Monday, May 30, 2022

Kip Gross chose Japan over the bigs and became a regular; Saw six ML seasons, five in Japan

Up and down with the Dodgers over two seasons, Kip Gross wasn't interested in continuing that, he told The Boston Globe years later.

So, when he got another call at AAA Albuquerque in 1994, he declined, he recounted to The Globe. Instead, he went to Japan.

"Best decision I ever made in my life," Gross told The Globe in 1999.

Gross' decision turned into a regular slot with the Nippon Ham Fighters over the next five seasons. He eventually returned stateside for two final seasons. He ended up seeing six seasons in the bigs in all.

Gross' career began in 1986, taken by the Mets in the fourth round of the draft out of the University of Nebraska.

Gross started with the Mets at single-A Lynchburg. He went 7-4, with a 2.72 ERA over 16 outings, 15 starts.

He saw single-A St. Lucie in 1988, then AA Jackson and AAA Tidewater in 1989. He arrived with the Reds for 1990 in a trade. He debuted with Cincinnati that April. 

Gross saw five relief outings with the Reds and gave up three earned over 6.1 innings. He played the rest of the season at AAA Nashville. That July at Nashville, the team needed him to start and he was ready, he told The Nashville Tennessean.

"I don't mind pitching in relief or spot starting," Gross told The Tennessean. "I'm willing to do whatever I can to help this club. At the same time, I'm helping myself fill the role that Cincinnati wants from me because they apparently want me to be a utility pitcher."

He returned to the Reds for 1991 and saw 29 outings, nine starts. He went 6-4, with a 3.47 ERA. The Reds then traded him on to the Dodgers.

Gross saw 16 games with the Dodgers in 1992, one start, then 10 relief outings in 1993. He gave up one earned in 15 innings.

Gross then headed to Japan and the Nippon Ham Fighters. He went 6-12 his first year there, then saw double-digit wins each of the next three campaigns. He went 17-9, with a 3.62 ERA there in 1996. 

Gross returned stateside with the Red Sox for 1999. He saw 11 outings with Boston and gave up 11 earned in 12.2 innings of work. He saw two outings with the Astros in 2000 to end his big league career.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,928
Made the Majors:1,308-33.3%-X
Never Made Majors:2,620-66.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:531-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:328    

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