Braves Kazmar gets first big league bat in more than 12 years

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Atlanta infielder Sean Kazmar played in his first game in the major leagues in over 12 years on Saturday when he appeared as a pinch hitter against the host Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The 36-year-old American last played a Major League Baseball game in September 23, 2008 in his rookie season with the San Diego Padres, a span of 12 years, six months and 25 days between performances.

"What a good feeling," Kazmar said. "Getting that opportunity early in the game was awesome. One, to do it with an Atlanta Braves uniform on, and secondly, to do it at Wrigley Field, it was amazing."

Kazmar has made minor league stops in Tacoma, Binghamton, San Antonio and Gwinnett. For the last eight years, he has played for the Braves' Triple-A farm team, used mainly as a second baseman.

On Saturday, he grounded into a double play as a pinch-hitter in the Braves 13-4 loss to the Cubs.

"It's crazy," he said. "At this time I was sitting at home on unemployment a year ago. It was kind of tough to look for a job if you weren't too sure if you're going to be a part of that (roster)."

The gap between big-league appearances was the largest since that of right-hander Ralph Winegarner in 1936. He played a game for Cleveland in June 1936 and did not return to the majors until July 1949, with the St. Louis Browns -- a break of over 13 years.

The Padres made Kazmar a fifth-round pick in the 2004 amateur draft. He appeared in 19 games in 2008 for San Diego.

Kazmar knew he would be back in the show.

"I tell guys all the time, you never know in this game," Kazmar said. "It never really left my mind, especially the last few years playing in Gwinnett. I still felt like I had the ability to play at this level."