Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Journeyman Dana Eveland seeks spot with Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE — Dana Eveland knows the routine by now.

Show up for spring training in a new city, in a new organization, with a new clubhouse filled with new faces and new personalities. Just smile and go with the flow.

"Nothing new for me," Eveland said.

That's because the 32-year-old left-hander is a living definition of a journeyman ballplayer. The Rays are his 11th major-league club since he signed with the Brewers in 2003 out of College of the Canyons (Calif.). His bio reads more like an atlas than a baseball card.

Two seasons in Milwaukee, followed by one in Arizona and two in Oakland. Toronto and Pittsburgh in 2010 before the Dodgers in 2011. Baltimore the next year, Korea in 2013 and the Mets in 2014. Boston, Atlanta and Baltimore (again) last year.

All of that before he signed with the Rays in December.

"I never even considered buying a (house)," Eveland said. "I have a condo in Arizona, because I had a lot of spring training there. That's easy, because everything there is so close."

But that condo won't help him this spring, where he's training at his seventh different site in eight years.

Eveland started his career as a hard-throwing starter. His windup and frame (6 feet 1, 235 pounds) drew comparisons to David Wells.

He started a career-high 29 games with the A's in 2008, posting a 4.34 ERA and 9-9 record and allowing the fewest home runs per nine innings on Oakland's staff. His highlight was a three-hit, one-run complete game against the Rays — still the only complete game of his career.

Fifteen months later, Eveland was out of Oakland and off to the Blue Jays.

Eveland said the constantly morphing scenery isn't an issue on the field or in the clubhouse. The tough part is away from the field; being at camp Wednesday forced him to miss his son's first baseball game back home in Palmdale, Calif.

"That's the hard part," Eveland said. "The baseball part, being here, once you're between these doors and get to turn that stuff off, it makes it a lot easier."

Eveland's game has had to change along with his uniform. He has transitioned from a starter to a reliever and dropped his delivery to more of a sidearm.

"You have to just constantly adjust as you get older," Eveland said. "You're not going to be able to be the same guy forever. … Obviously I've adjusted to try to hold onto my career as long as I can."

That's what sent him to the Rays, where Eveland hopes to contribute as a veteran presence in one of the youngest clubhouses he has entered. Eveland is the Rays' oldest pitcher and a decade older than right-hander Jacob Faria. Among pitchers, only starter Alex Cobb has more service time than Eveland.

But of course Eveland has been in this situation before. He compared the Rays' youth to what he saw in Oakland in 2009, when his 35 career starts made him the most experienced pitcher on staff.

"I feel like I can help somewhere," Eveland said. "I can throw multiple innings. I can get a lefty out. Whatever they want me to go. I also feel like I'm a different guy to lean on for the younger guys, to ask questions at least. I've done it all."

Almost everything, at least.

He still hasn't found a way to stick with one club. Maybe, Eveland said, the Rays will give them that chance for the final few seasons of his career.

"It'd be a nice change of pace for me …" Eveland said. "It'd be nice to make a home somewhere. I've said that every year."

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

     
 
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