FORT MYERS, Fla. — Edward Mujica, who pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals last season, had a front-row seat for the Boston Red Sox’s World Series victory. The veteran reliever carried his admiration into the offseason.
Mujica, who signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract with the Red Sox in December, said after the club’s workout at JetBlue Park on Tuesday that he immediately identified Boston as a potential destination upon becoming a free agent.
“When I saw these guys win the World Series, it was unbelievable to see these guys the year before (finish) last and last year make it to the World Series and make it happen,” Mujica said. “That was unbelievable. When this team made me an offer, I just talked to my agent right away. I know a couple of people from back in the days when I was in the Cleveland organization — John Farrell, (bench coach) Torey (Lovullo). I decided to come here because I know those guys, and those guys know a lot of things about me.”
Mujica was an All-Star with the Cardinals in 2013. He entered the final month of the regular season with 35 saves and a 1.73 ERA, but a disastrous September forced St. Louis to insert hard-throwing rookie Trevor Rosenthal into the closer’s role. Mujica, who allowed nine earned runs in 7 1/3 innings last September (11.05 ERA), saw his season ERA balloon to 2.78, and the Cardinals only turned to the right-hander twice during the postseason. Mujica didn’t throw a single pitch in the Fall Classic.
“In baseball, those things happen for everybody. Everybody has rough days. Everybody has rough months,” Mujica said. “But it happened to me at the end of the season, and this year I want to try to prepare myself to be ready to go for the situation and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Mujica is entering his ninth major league season with his fifth different organization. The Venezuelan has had success in the National League since 2009, but there’s one glaring omission from Mujica’s resume.
“It was a crazy experience for me (in St. Louis), to be the closer, (go to the) All-Star Game (and) World Series. But here (in Boston), we’ve got an opportunity to make it happen,” Mujica said. “I just came here knowing that these guys play pretty good together and everything. I’m just trying to get my ring. We’re going to try to make it happen this year.”
Mujica clearly wants more. Tasting playoff baseball without the World Series champagne tends to do that to a guy.
Photo via Twitter/@WilmerReina