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Good for Jim Henderson

As a 26th round draft pick by the Montreal Expos in the 2003 draft, Jim Henderson faced a steep uphill climb to make it to the majors. 

He stuck around long enough to be eligible for the Rule 5 draft in 2006. He was selected by the Cubs, but he didn’t make the major league roster. The Washington Nationals didn’t want him back, so he pitched two years in the Cubs minor league system before getting released. He then hooked on with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He then had to pitch another two and a half years in the minors. 

He was 29 when he finally made it to the majors. It’s a plot for a family movie about preserving and accomplishing your dreams. It’s not an indication that you’re going to have any kind of success in the majors. 

Yet, Henderson quickly became the Brewers’ closer. In 2013, he recorded 28 saves with a 2.70 ERA. Finally, at 30 years of age, Henderson’s career seemed to be taking off. Unfortunately, disaster struck. Henderson needed shoulder surgery. His 2014 season was over. He only got to pitch 35 innings in the minors in 2015. He was now heading into free agency after not pitching in close to two and a half years. 

At that point, he was hoping just to pitch anywhere. Even at 33 years of age, he was willing to pitch anywhere just to get another shot in the majors. He decided to sign a minor league contract with the Mets, who thought fairly highly of him

He seized the opportunity. During Spring Training, Henderson had a 1.69 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10.2 innings. Despite yet another steep uphill climb, Henderson proved himself. He made the Mets Opening Day roster. Better yet, he would become a prime set-up man with the Mets. 

Terry Collins tabbed Henderson to pitch in the seventh inning to preserve a 2-0 lead against a Royals team that beat up on the Mets team in the World Series. Henderson’s first pitch in the majors after a two and a half year absence was a 97 MPH fastball for a called strike. He would strike out his first batter, Alex Gordon. Henderson pitched a 1-2-3 inning, recording a hold, with two strikeouts. 

After all he’s been through, Jim Henderson is not just back in the majors, he’s back to dominate at the back end of the Mets bullpen. 

Editor’s Note: this article also appeared on metsmerizedonline.com

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