Ex-Rays pitcher Gonzalez killed
Righthander Jeremi Gonzalez, who pitched for the Rays in 2003-04, was struck by lightning and killed on Sunday at a beach in his native Venezuela, according to an Associated Press report. He was 33.
Gonzalez, known for a quirky sense of humor, made an impressive comeback after being out of the majors for four years due to injuries and was a mainstay in the Rays rotation in 2003, going 6-11 with a 3.91 ERA while making 25 starts, allowing three runs or fewer 17 times. He threw the pitch that broke Sammy Sosa's corked bat, leading to controversy about the then-Cubs slugger.
Gonzalez got a big raise and opened the next season as the No. 2 starter, but was 0-5 with a 6.97 ERA and spent a large portion of the season at Triple-A Durham, and was released in November.
Since leaving the Rays, he pitched for the Red Sox, Mets and Brewers, and was in spring training last year with the Blue Jays and pitched briefly in the minors before being released and going to Japan. He also started being known as Geremi.
Gonzalez is the third ex-Rays pitcher to die in the last 19 months. Cory Lidle was killed in an October 2006 plane crash and Joe Kennedy died last November of natural causes.
[Times photo files]