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Chris Oxspring

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Chris Andrew Oxspring

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[edit] Biographical Information

Chris Oxspring has pitched in the majors, the Olympics, Japan and is headed to South Korea in 2007. He was the IBAF male Player of the Year in 2004 for his stardom in the Olympics. He sometimes throws a knuckleball.

[edit] Early Career

Oxspring came out of the independent leagues. In 2000, he signed with the Cook County Cheetahs and went 1-0 with a save and a 3.10 ERA, striking out a batter per inning. Scouted by Bill Bryk, Bill Clark, and Mal Fichman, the San Diego Padres signed him that October. He split 2001 between the Fort Wayne Wizards (4-1, 4.15 in 41 games, .297 opponent average, 54 K in 56 1/3 IP) and the Lake Elsinore Storm (0.64 in 7 games, 17 K in 14 1/3 IP). He allowed no runs in 2 1/3 IP for Australia in the 2001 Baseball World Cup.

The right-handed reliever continued to strike out lots of batters in 2002. He whiffed 30 in 26 1/3 IP for the Storm (0-1, 4.78) and 21 in 14 1/3 IP for the Mobile BayBears (1.26 ERA). Returning to Mobile in 2003, the 26-year-old was busy as a starter (18 games) and relief pitcher (22 games). He was 10-6 with a 2.92 ERA and allowed a .210 average. He struck out 129 and walked 62 in 135 2/3 IP. He finished fifth in the Southern League in ERA and was two wins shy of co-leaders Enemencio Pacheco and Cory Stewart.

[edit] AAA, Olympics, major leagues, Japan

In 2004, Oxspring made it to AAA and had a 6-4, 3.99 record for the Portland Beavers with 81 strikeouts in 85 2/3 IP while walking 44. In the 2004 Olympics, he held the Italian national team to one hit in 8 innings before giving way to Ryan Rowland-Smith for the final frame of the shutout and got the win. In the semifinals, Oxspring got the call against the top seed, Japan, which featured Michihiro Ogasawara, Kosuke Fukudome, Kenji Johjima, Kazuhiro Wada, Yoshinobu Takahashi and Norihiro Nakamura. The mound opponent was Daisuke Matsuzaka. Chris allowed five hits and no walks through 6 2/3 IP while striking out five and held a 1-0 edge thanks to a Brendan Kingman hit that scored Brett Roneberg. With the inning almost over, though, Ogasawara hit a pop-up that fell between LF Paul Gonzalez and SS Rodney van Buizen, charging the latter with an error. Wada then hit a grounder off of Oxspring's glove and over to van Buizen, who stumbled and threw too low to first. Jeff Williams relieved Oxspring and finished the gem by allowing no further runs. Oxspring tied Hiroki Kuroda and Luis Borroto for the lowest ERA (0.00) in the Olympics that year and tied for second in wins, one behind Adiel Palma. Chris won the IBAF Male Player of the Year Award as a result; Laura Brenneman was his female counterpart.

In 2005, Oxspring led Padres farmhands with 3 complete games and was one win behind co-leaders Mike Ekstrom and Jared Wells. Chris was 12-6 with a 4.03 ERA for Portland. He was 7th in the PCL in ERA, sandwiched between Ariel Prieto and Rick Helling and won the most games in the league. He was a September call-up to San Diego. In his September 2 big league debut, he relieved Brian Lawrence in the second inning of a 12-2 rout, walking Carlos Lee and then allowing a grand slam to Geoff Jenkins before striking out Russell Branyan. He had a 3.75 ERA in his five relief appearances for the 2005 Padres.

Oxspring moved to Japan in 2006, joining Olympic teammate Williams on the Hanshin Tigers. Chris was 4-3 but his 5.12 ERA was clearly the worst on the staff - of the six other pitchers to start 10 games, the next highest ERA was 3.54.

[edit] Back to the minors; South Korea

Oxspring was back with Milwaukee in 2007 and was assigned to the Nashville Sounds. He began 7-5 with a 3.56 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 96 innings. He was second to Jorge Campillo in the PCL in ERA and second to Yovani Gallardo in strikeouts. The team then sold his contract to the LG Twins in mid-July. On July 21, he debuted in South Korea, pitching 7 innings, allowing 3 hits, 3 walks and no earned runs. He got the win against the Doosan Bears. He was 4-5 with a 3.24 ERA that year for the Twins.

Oxspring went 10-10 with a 3.93 ERA for LG in 2008, an impressive feat on a 46-80 club. Oxspring was on Australia's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic but did not appear during the Classic.

Sources: 2001-2007 Baseball Almanacs, Japan Baseball Daily by Gary Garland, IBAF website, Minorleaguebaseball.com, [http://www.koreabaseball.com/record/player.asp?player_id=77199 Oxspring's KBO page]

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