Today, the Cubs announced that they had signed, among others, Augie Ojeda to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
On the face of it, this isn't a big deal move. Ojeda is 36, a Cub from 2000-2003 with a good glove and almost no bat. He missed two full major league seasons in 2005 and 2006 and resurfaced with the Diamondbacks in 2007, where he continued not to hit -- except against his former Cub teammates; Augie went 4-for-9 with a double and a walk in the 2007 NLDS victory by Arizona over the Cubs.
Ojeda will probably help mentor some of the Cubs' younger infielders and maybe wind up at Triple-A Iowa as injury protection.
It's one game that Augie played right after being recalled from Iowa in 2003 that prompts this commentary. The popular Ojeda had spent most of 2003 in Triple-A (playing a handful of games in August) and was called up in September with expanded rosters. On September 2, the Cubs were scheduled for a day/night doubleheader against the Cardinals, the first being a makeup game for a rained-out date in May.
In that first game on September 2, 2003, the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead and the Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. It went 2-2 into extra innings after the Cubs managed to get the winning run in scoring position in the last of the ninth, but could not score.
In the 12th inning, Augie came into the game in a double-switch, and came up to bat with one out in the last of the 12th -- having gone 0-for-20 up to that date in 2003. And he hit a ball that would have been a walkoff home run -- except the wind, blowing in after some earlier rain, kicked in right at that time; the ball died on the warning track.
But Augie wasn't done. The game slogged on, still scoreless. He came up to bat again, leading off the bottom of the 15th inning -- and broke that 0-for-21 with a zillion-bounce single through the left side of the infield. Tony Womack flied to center, but Sammy Sosa ended the four hour, 47 minute marathon with a walkoff homer. The entire series was one of the most exciting regular season sets ever at Wrigley Field.
And we have Augie to thank, in part. Whatever he may do in the future -- and who knows, his future might include some sort of coaching position in the Cubs system -- he'll always be part of Cubs lore in a division title season.