MILWAUKEE -- Former All-Star closer Eric Gagne told reporters in his native Canada last week that he wants to return to organized baseball as a starter and that he's open to beginning the year in the Minor Leagues. But his most recent Major League employer doesn't plan to be among the teams considering Gagne as a reclamation project. "I don't see that," Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash wrote in an e-mail this week. Gagne last pitched in the big leagues in 2008 with Milwaukee, compiling a 5.44 ERA in 50 games. He signed for $10 million and was a bust as the Brewers closer, but he returned from a midseason shoulder injury and was actually a solid contributor down the stretch, with a 4.33 ERA in 30 appearances beginning July 3, including an 0.84 ERA in 11 games after Sept. 2. Including two scoreless appearances in the postseason, Gagne didn't allow a run in 12 of his final 13 games. He was extremely popular in the front offices at Miller Park for his charitable contributions.
That combination of on- and off-field factors prompted the Brewers to give Gagne a shot last spring on a Minor League contract in February. He reported to camp looking to win a roster spot, but his bid was derailed by the recurrence of shoulder woes and the Brewers released him on March 8. After rehab, Gagne signed as a player/coach with the Quebec Capitales in the independent Canadian-American League. In 17 games, all starts, he was 6-6 with a 4.65 ERA and two complete games. The Capitales won the league championship and Gagne, according to a report on Yahoo! Sports, honed the cut fastball he occasionally threw in Milwaukee to complement his fastball, curveball and changeup. Speaking at a charity event on Nov. 12 in Quebec City, Gagne said he wants to make one more bid for the Majors. He said it would be "fun" to return to the Dodgers, for whom Gagne had his most success, including a stretch of 84 consecutive saves from 2002-04, but he's open to any interested club. Gagne turns 34 in January. The Brewers already have some veteran-type arms at Triple-A, including Mike Burns, who already signed a Minor League deal to return for 2010. Burns, 31, posted a 5.75 ERA in 15 appearances for the Brewers in '09, including eight starts. In terms of Gagne-style reclamations, the Brewers may bring back former All-Star left-hander Chris Capuano, who is attempting a comeback from his second career Tommy John elbow ligament replacemtn surgery. Capuano, also 31, pitched in six games for low-level Brewers affiliates late last season with some success. He's a free agent again this winter.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.