Let’s Remember Some Dodgers: Russ Ortiz & Ramon Ortiz

(Photo: AP/Mark Duncan)

Entering the 2010 season with five starters and 59 starts gone from the 2009 starting rotation, the Dodgers did not make a substantial move to replace Randy Wolf’s 34 starts when he left Los Angeles for Milwaukee during the offseason. A trade of Juan Pierre brought back John Ely, and Carlos Monasterios arrived from the Mets via the Phillies and the Rule 5 Draft, but the Dodgers entered 2010 with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla as locks with an opening for the final spot.

With space available on the pitching staff, both of these guys were added on minor-league contracts ahead of Spring Training and inspired The Ortiz DFA-O-Meter on the ghost of this website.


Russ Ortiz

After five seasons with the Giants, two with the Braves and a season and a half with the D-backs, Ortiz began to bounce around. The 2003 All-Star and fourth-place finisher in the 2003 Cy Young race, Ortiz was cut by Arizona midway through 2006, despite still having more than $20 million remaining on his contract, and joined the Orioles for the rest of the season. After spending 2007 back in San Francisco, he missed all of 2008 following Tommy John surgery and moved into the twilight of his career. Winning the fifth spot in the Astros rotation out of Spring Training, Ortiz pitched for Houston until July and then had an 11-day stint in Triple-A for the Yankees and a 14-day run in Triple-A with the Rockies to finish the 2009 season.

Signing a minor-league contract (his third consecutive season doing so) with the Dodgers in January 2010, the 35-year-old Ortiz put together a strong Spring with a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings, striking out 13 to just 2 walks. With those numbers and some issues for a few others who were expected to make the Opening Day roster, Ortiz worked his way onto the team.

Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso and Jeff Weaver locked down the top spots in the bullpen behind the five starters (Charlie Haeger earned the final spot), with Ortiz, Monasterios and the next one up in this post rounding out the staff. Hung-Chih Kuo opening the season on the IL and Ronald Belisario’s visa issues created the space for a few non-roster invitees to (temporarily) join the Dodgers.

Pitching six times in the first 13 days of the season, Ortiz opened the regular season with a pair of scoreless outings to continue his run from Spring. However, he would allow two runs in just 1/3 of an inning against the Marlins, two to the D-backs in the 11th inning after entering as the seventh pitcher out of the bullpen, and finally four to the Giants in 1 2/3 innings as the Dodgers led 10-3. Needing Troncoso (currently a pitching coach for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes) to take over for the final out of what was a blowout, Ortiz’s time with the Dodgers was already coming to an end.

A scoreless inning against the Giants a day later would be the final appearance of his baseball career, as the Dodgers designated him for assignment, with Ortiz electing to decline an option to the minors and retiring instead.

In his 7 innings with the Dodgers, Ortiz finished with a 10.29 ERA and 6 strikeouts to 5 walks, though his FIP, somehow, finished at 3.51 with a .345 BABIP that was .080 over his career average.

It’s a shame that link doesn’t work anymore.


Ramon Ortiz

The other Ortiz actually put together an even better Spring Training for the Dodgers to turn his minor-league deal signed in early February into an Opening Day roster spot.

Following six years with the Angels, the 36-year-old Ortiz began the journeyman portion of his career after a trade to the Reds ahead of the 2005 season. Signing with the Nationals for 2006, Ortiz then moved to the Twins in 2007 and was traded to the Rockies for the final two months of the season. Pitching in the Dominican Winter League, Caribbean Series, the Japan Pacific League and the Japan Western League in 2008, Ortiz returned to the Dominican Winter League and Caribbean Series before the 2009 MLB season.

Spending all of 2009 in Triple-A Fresno for the Giants, Ortiz finished the year with a 3.65 ERA in 129 2/3 innings with 114 strikeouts to 34 walks. The Dodgers added him to the 2010 group of arms just a few weeks before Spring Training, where he finished with a 0.96 ERA in 18 2/3 innings, apparently aided by a curveball he learned while in Japan a few years prior. Naturally that earned him a spot in the majors that would last through the first two months of the season.

Starting the season with 14 relief appearances in the team’s first 33 games (including four games where both he and Russ Ortiz pitched that all ended in losses), Ortiz filled in a variety of roles. While six appearances were less than a full inning of work, Ortiz did come in for 5 innings against the Rockies when Haeger allowed five runs to five batters. That served as nearly a quarter of his work through those 14 games, and actually helped bring down his ERA from 5.71 (with a 5.33 FIP) to a 5.24 ERA (and a 5.32 FIP).

Haeger headed to the IL after that start, where Padilla already was, opening a spot for Ortiz in the rotation. While John Ely claimed a more permanent role in the rotation until the Dodgers added Ted Lilly at the trade deadline, Ortiz ended up starting a pair of games against the Padres.

About a week after filling in for Haeger, Ortiz allowed three runs to San Diego in 4 innings, striking out 4 to 3 walks and six hits in his first start in the majors since May 2007. The bullpen’s five innings, covered by Sherrill, Weaver, Belisario, Kuo and Broxton, truly earned the victory with Matt Kemp’s two-run home run taking the 4-3 lead in the seventh. The bullpen couldn’t bail him out a second time, as Ortiz started on May 19 and took the loss as the Dodgers’ 9-game win streak was snapped. Allowing 5 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks in 3 1/3 innings, Ortiz struck out just one batter in his final appearance.

After not pitching for a week, Ortiz was designated for assignment on May 27 with Justin Miller promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque. Ending his stint with a 6.30 ERA and a 5.45 FIP in 30 innings, Ortiz signed with the Mets in June and the Rays in August to finish out the 2010 season.

Getting back to the majors with the Cubs in 2011, Ortiz bounced between Chicago, San Francisco, the Yankees and Toronto between 2012 and 2013 before retiring after 12 years in the majors.

The most impactful result of Ortiz’s time on the Dodgers was his roster spot eventually going to Kenley Jansen, who took over for Miller in Los Angeles about two months later after being recalled from Double-A Chattanooga.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.