Bleier gets chance to face former teammates

Yankees reliever, who was drafted by the Rangers, throws scoreless inning

Bleier gets chance to face former teammates

NEW YORK -- It's not surprising that the day after a 9-6 Yankees loss that featured a three-hour, 35-minute rain delay and a blown save in the ninth inning, a 1-2-3 sixth tossed by a little-known relief pitcher wasn't the main topic of discussion.

But for Richard Bleier, the 29-year-old rookie pitcher who threw that scoreless frame, the outing was an event eight seasons in the making.

Monday night was the first time that Bleier faced off against the Rangers, the organization that drafted him and kept him employed for six seasons from 2008-13. Bleier pitched at every Minor League level in Texas, starting in low Class A out of college at 21 years old and working his way up to Triple-A before being picked by Toronto in the Rule 5 Draft in December 2013.

Bleier didn't make his Major League debut until this season with the Yankees, but the Rangers' organization is still the most familiar to him. Though manager Jeff Banister and pitching coach Doug Brocail weren't with the club when he was there, nearly every other Rangers coach was. Bench coach Steve Buechele was his manager for four seasons, bullpen coach Brad Holman was his pitching coach and first-base coach Hector Ortiz served as his manager. And that's not even counting the players.

Bleier listed Ryan Rua, Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor, Mitch Moreland, Luke Jackson and Robinson Chirinos as former teammates of his, and he got the opportunity to face two of them Monday night, forcing Moreland to line out to center field and getting Chirinos to ground out to shortstop.

Seeing the Rangers in the opposite dugout, and seeing faces like that of Texas general manager Jon Daniels, brought back a whirlwind of memories for Bleier, nearly all of which were positive.

"I played every level there. Except the big leagues," Bleier said. "I liked it. I enjoyed my time there. It just was one of those situations where it was definitely time to go somewhere else. I had been passed up long before. I always think about those guys and I stay in touch with a lot of them still. So it's nice actually seeing them. We had some good times, you know?"

Worth noting

After hitting three batters and blowing the save in Monday night's loss, Kirby Yates was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday afternoon and replaced on the roster by right-hander Conor Mullee. Yates has a 5.72 ERA in 28 1/3 innings pitched this season and has been among the Yankees' least reliable pitchers in June, allowing 13 runs on 14 hits in 8 1/3 innings pitched this month. This will be Mullee's second stint with the Yankees this season. He allowed one earned run on no hits and three walks in one inning of work his first time up.

Nick Suss is a reporter for based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.