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Jeff Ridgway

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Jeffrey Allen Ridgway

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[edit] Biographical Information

Jeff Ridgway was the first major leaguer from Port Angeles, a logging community close to Canada. He is the cousin of Matt Lane.

Ridgway won honorable mention for the USA Today high school team in 1999. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays took him in the 14th round of the 1999 amateur draft. Ridgway debuted professionally in 2000 with the Princeton Devil Rays and went 3-4 but with a 2.47 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings. He was second in the Appalachian League in ERA, trailing Domingo Valdez by 0.84. At age 21, Jeff was in full-season ball with the Charleston RiverDogs and had a 7-8, 4.07 record.

Ridgway missed all of 2002 after elbow surgery. In 2003, he returned to action with the RiverDogs, posting a 5-8, 4.17 record. The left-hander was 2-3 with a save and 2.31 ERA in 15 games for the 2004 Bakersfield Blaze before shoulder inflammation cut short his season.

Ridgway had bone spurs removed from his left elbow in 2005 and struggled in his rehab stint with the Visalia Oaks (3-4, 5.20 in 24 games, though he did strike out 56 in 45 innings). He improved as time progressed - he allowed 23 runs in his first 9 games but later went a month without giving up an earned run.

In 2006, Jeff Ridgway was finally healthy for the first time in five years. He went 1-0 with 2 saves and a 2.33 ERA for the Montgomery Biscuits, allowing a .152 opponent average and whiffing 29 in 19 1/3 IP. That earned him a ticket to the Durham Bulls, where he was 1-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 34 outings. He was 1-0 with a save and a 3.48 ERA that fall for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Ridgway also worked for Team USA in the Americas qualifier for the 2008 Olympics, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks in 2 2/3 IP over four games as a LOOGY. He struck out five and allowed no runs, the only US pitcher to give up none. In the final game, he relieved J. Brent Cox with a 5-3 US lead in the 7th but allowed both inherited runners to score on a double, walk and wild pitch. Ridgway was relieved by Lee Gronkiewicz, who prevented further damage and wound up with the win as the US rallied.

In the 2007 season, Ridgway was 2-3 with 4 saves and a 3.06 ERA in 54 games for Durham, allowing a .228 average and striking out 67 in 64 2/3 IP. He tied Arnie Munoz for 6th in the International League in games pitched. After Durham was knocked out of the playoffs, Ridgway and J.P. Howell were called up to Tampa Bay to give the bullpen some left-handed depth. In his first game, he relieved Grant Balfour with a 7-7 tie in the 6th inning and Maicer Izturis aboard. Ridgway gave up a RBI single to Casey Kotchman and a run-scoring triple to Howie Kendrick before Scott Dohmann relieved him. His next game was even worse. Down 4-1 in the 9th, he relieved Gary Glover. He walked Jacoby Ellsbury then plunked Dustin Pedroia. David Ortiz then cracked a 3-run homer to give Ridgway 4 runs allowed before he had retired a batter in The Show. He was yanked in favor of Balfour.

Sources: 2000-2007 Baseball Almanacs, IBAF website, Baseball America article on the Olympic qualifying tournament, MILB.com, 2007 Devil Rays Media Guide

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