A part of this story will likely put a smile on the faces of York Revolution fans.
It wasn't a War of the Roses-style clash, the way Chris Waters tells the tale. But it sounds as though York and Lancaster were the two finalists for the services of the former Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher.
In Lancaster, Waters has a friend in Barnstormers' reliever Jeff Bennett. The two were teammates a couple years ago with the Milwaukee Brewers' Class AAA Nashville club.
In York, there's former Revs' pitcher Jason Richardson, who is spending his summer with the club rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Richardson and Waters played together in the 1990s at Lake Gibson (Fla.) High School and later were teammates with the Atlanta Braves' High Class A Myrtle Beach (S.C.) club.
Revs' pitching coach Mark Mason was aware of Waters being on the open market back in spring training, and recently asked Richardson to follow up with the left-hander.
"Jeff Bennett called me from Lancaster and asked me if I wanted to play there," Waters said Wednesday night. "He called me and I tried to get back with him. He never answered and then J-Rich (Richardson) called me and said 'Hey, we (York) just got rid of a lefty, why don't you come here?' So, I came on board."
The lefty Waters referred to is Jesus Sanchez, who the Revs released on Monday. The Revs have also been searching for an adequate replacement for lefty Ryan Feierabend, who the Cincinnati Reds picked up on June 5. York announced the signing of Waters on Wednesday. After some relief work, he's expected to eventually work his way into the Revs' rotation.
Been there, done that: Waters, 31, is 15 months removed from Tommy John surgery to his throwing elbow. The injury was caused in August 2010 when he was drilled in his throwing arm by a pitch during an at-bat while playing in a game for Nashville. Waters later underwent elbow surgery on March 22, 2011, and has been working back to full health ever since.
Waters has been down a similar road before in trying to get to the big leagues. In 2004 he tore the labrum and rotator cuff in his throwing arm early in the season when playing for Myrtle Beach. But it turned out to help him in the long run.
"I went from throwing hard to not throwing so hard and having to learn how to pitch," he said.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Waters featured mostly just a fastball and curveball before shoulder surgery. After the injury, he also developed a cutter, a slider and a change-up.
The lefty returned to the Braves' organization in 2005 before joining the Orioles' organization in 2007. He finally reached the big leagues with Baltimore in 2008, posting a 3-5 record and 5.01 ERA in 11 starts.
"It was surreal. I spent nine years in pro ball trying to get there," Waters said. "When you first sign, it's a dream and you feel like you're right around the corner. And then after shoulder surgery it's a grind of everyday playing."
He made it back to the big leagues with Baltimore again in 2009, compiling a 5.40 ERA over four relief appearances and one start. Waters might be in the majors right now if not for the freak injury in 2010.
If he turns out to be anything close to his former self, the move could pay off big time for York, especially considering Atlantic League Freedom Division rival Lancaster almost snagged the lefty.
-- Reach John Walk email@example.com.