All around the world: Bees pitcher Anthony Lerew hopes for one more shot at the big leagues
Salt Lake Bees
SALT LAKE CITY — Anthony Lerew was pitching for an independent ball club in a small town in Pennsylvania three weeks ago when he got the phone call from his agent.
Soon after he was on his way to Salt Lake City as the newest member in the Los Angeles Angels organization — assigned to the Salt Lake Bees.
For the 31-year-old righty, it’s possibly one last crack at the dream every young baseball fan has: playing in the majors.
“I just want to get back the big leagues while I still can,” he said, flashing a grin. “This was the way to do it. Go (to independent ball), pitch well and get somebody to notice me since nobody has seen me the last three years.”
Lerew isn’t a stranger to the minor leagues, nor is he a stranger to Major League Baseball. The former 11th round pick broke into the big leagues in 2005 with the Atlanta Braves.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007, Lerew returned to the majors with Kansas City. However, he hadn’t pitched in any level of MLB since the end of the 2010 season.
His journey from then to now hasn’t always been a clear path, either.
The pitcher known for his biker-like sideburns has traveled the world, pitching everywhere from a small town in Pennsylvania to the flashy lights of Korea, Japan to Venezuela, hoping each stop will land him closer to reliving the dream he once achieved.
Now he’s in Triple-A ball with the Bees, hoping this is the last stop before returning to the glorious big leagues.
“If I were to write a book, I feel like it would be pretty interesting,” he says with a slight chuckle. “Just where I’ve been, the stuff I’ve done, the people I’ve played with, the stuff I’ve seen, the different cultures it’s kind of cool to see all of that and be a part of all that. Now coming back, it gives you a newfound respect of being here.”
Lerew wasn’t a high-profile pitcher in his major league tenure. In five total major league seasons with Atlanta and Kansas City, he appeared in just 20 games, starting in 11, winning just one game and compiling a 7.48 career ERA. But Lerew showed potential.
After the 2010 season, his time in the Kansas City organization had run out. Lerew decided to follow in the same footsteps as many other baseball players looking to prove he still had what it takes to compete at the major-league level. So he opted to fly out to Venezuela and pitch in the winter league out there.
He quickly found success there, too.
In the final months of the calendar year, Lerew tossed a no-hitter for Navegantes del Magallanes. He even got carried off the field a la “Rudy.”
However, when the 2011 season came around, the best offer on his table came from the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Japan. Lerew agreed and his career continued across the world in Japan.
“The opportunity doesn’t come very often to have the chance to go over there,” he said. “I got the opportunity and I chose to do that.”
2011 was an unkind year for Japan. When Lerew arrived for spring training that year, a volcano erupted near Fukuoka, spewing ash all over the field where his team trained.
“Basically it was snowing (ash) and we would wear nurses masks and the ash would be all over us,” he said. “It was pretty interesting.”
Not too long after that, a gigantic earthquake ravished the country. Even worse, it sparked a tsunami and created one of the worst natural disasters in recent history.
Thousands were killed and many more were missing.
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