Before the Giants lost to Florida 4-1 on Sunday, Kirk Rueter’s nine-year run with San Francisco concluded in a brief meeting with general manager Brian Sabean, inside an office in the visiting clubhouse behind a door painted the ugliest shade of blue.
Sabean informed Rueter he was being activated from the disabled list and simultaneously designated for assignment, meaning he is off the 40-man roster and the team now has 10 days to trade or release the pitcher who has more wins (105) than any in San Francisco history except for Hall of Famers Juan Marichal (238) and Gaylord Perry (134).
The 34-year-old left-hander caught a flight to his home near St. Louis and did not go quietly, again popping off about the way he was sent to the bullpen, sentenced to six weeks in what he considered limbo and placed on the disabled list against his will.
“Everything ends sometimes,” Rueter said. “I think it could have been handled a little better than it was, considering I pitched three times in 41 days since July 4. I’ve been trying to do something since July 4. You’ll have to ask them why they picked now to do it.”
Sabean addressed that, saying the team did not want to eat the rest of Rueter’s contract by releasing him if he still could help the Giants. When it became clear he could not, Sabean tried to trade Rueter but the talks became “stymied.” Rueter was eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, and Sabean decided not to let the situation fester.
Rueter said he wishes the Giants acted sooner to give him a better chance of hooking on with another team.
“That’s what I’m more mad about,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been telling them I want, to go pitch, and I haven’t pitched. That’s probably the most frustrating thing. I’m fortunate I’ve been here for nine years and was able to play on some great teams, but the competitor in me wanted to pitch the last month and a half and stay in shape to pitch. I haven’t been able to do it.”
Unfortunately for Rueter, who converted pinpoint control and a great sinker into seven straight double-digit-win seasons (1997-2003), his argument was undercut by his performance this season (2-7, 5.95 ERA), which made him difficult to trade.