Patrick Finley: Ex-pitcher working on new delivery

2012-04-12T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:15:50Z Patrick Finley: Ex-pitcher working on new deliveryPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 12, 2012 12:00 am  • 

There are no job fairs for former major-leaguers - no expos for ex-Expos - so Randy Flores created one for himself.

In March, the 15-year pro followed his agent around a spring training game, to see if he liked it.

The former Tucson Padres left-handed relief pitcher has applied for grad school at USC, from which he owns a business degree.

Last month, he served as a webcast analyst for two Trojans baseball games.

And this week, he called two games as the Tucson Padres' radio analyst.

Charming and loquacious, the former USC walk-on seems a good fit for the booth.

At 36, Flores is trying to find a career, either in the corporate world or somewhere in baseball, that fits him.

"For 15 years, it's a bit of an empty résumé," he said. "'What have you done?' I have gray hair, and I've worn a uniform."

Since being drafted in the ninth round by the New York Yankees in 1997, Flores answered casual queries about his career outside the sport with blinders-on focus.

"It took everything in me, everything I have, to be mediocre at my job," he said self-effacingly. "I'm not good enough to multi-task in my brain. It's an all-in thing for me."

When the first day of spring training came and went without him signing, the future became the present.

"I need to have a second career, an actual career," Flores said. "I'm not one of those guys looking to fill time."

Flores spent parts of eight seasons in the big leagues. He was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series and went on to win the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

"The storybook story happened to me," he said.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Flores made about $3.12 million in the big leagues. He has a wife and two daughters - one, age 2, and another born 10 days after last year's minor-league season ended.

This spring, he began calling and emailing contacts, including Tucson general manager Mike Feder and play-by-play voice Tim Hagerty, whom he knew from a stint pitching here last season.

He offered references and simply asked if he could help for a few days.

He met them at the San Diego Padres' spring training for research last month and drove to Tucson on Monday. Before Tuesday's game, he even grabbed Hagerty a piece of pregame pizza.

Flores has no air of pretension or entitlement. He peppers stories of his own career, humbly, with claims he "wasn't real effective," "wasn't a prospect" and had "completely mediocre stats."

He's happy to move anywhere. He's up for almost anything. Staying in baseball after playing, though, would be a blast.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with that, where you love it so much that it's kinda something that you always mourn," he said. "Whether or not I'll be in a dark room crying and depressed my whole life, is a different story."

He spent Monday night at Tucson Padres pitcher Jeff Suppan's apartment - the two were Cardinals teammates - before going back to his Scottsdale home.

Suppan has a post-baseball plan - he and wife Dana own Soup's Sports Grill in Woodland Hills, Calif. - but understands why others don't.

"You're not thinking about retirement," he said. "You're trying to get this guy out."

Flores could shine in broadcasting, Suppan said, because he has a "particular skill that only a small percentage of people in the world have."

Hagerty was impressed by his insight and his drive to improve. Flores will use his Padres tapes as audition material.

Until he sorts out his plan, though, Flores will be at home, adjusting to his new life. For the first time, he spent Easter at home with his family.

"I think," he said, "this is going to be a year of firsts."

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