Oliver Drake didn’t dream of making history like this. No player would. In 142 major league seasons, no man had ever embarked on a baseball odyssey like the one Drake has navigated in 2018.
The 31-year-old right-hander began the season in Milwaukee, pitched in 11 games and was Designated for Assignment (DFA) on May 2. Three days later he was acquired by Cleveland for cash. Drake made four appearances with the Indians before being DFA on May 26. The Los Angeles Angels claimed Drake on May 31. He took the mound eight times in Anaheim, but was DFA again July 23. Toronto was the next team to kick the tires, claiming Drake on July 26, but would DFA him just four days later after only two appearances. The Twins claimed the journeyman reliever on August 3.
When Drake entered in the 9th inning of the Twins 8-2 win over Kansas City the following day, he became the first player in history to play for five big league teams in one season. Unlike the other four teams he’s suited up for this year, the Twins appear to be giving him a legitimate look. And so far, it’s been positive. In 10 1/3 innings over eight games, Drake has struck 11 against four walks and posted a 2.61 ERA.
I caught up with the Naval Academy product during the Oakland series last week.
DZ: Well you’ve been with the Twins now roughly three weeks. You’re off to a pretty good start. Do you feel like you’re getting a real chance this time, this team?
DRAKE: Yeah, you know I’m just enjoying it, being here so far. And I’ve been able to get an opportunity to throw, which is nice.
DZ: You’ve gotten a lot of notoriety lately for being the first player to play on five teams (in one season). I saw you had a story in the New York Times, kind of blowing up the internet a little bit. What’s that been like for you?
DRAKE: I don’t really try to pay much attention to it. I’m just worried about showing up at the ballpark and playing. But you know there’s definitely a lot more interview requests…it’s cool I guess.
DZ: (Being) the first person in history to do something in baseball…Even though it’s something you didn’t really plan on doing, do you feel any like pride in that at all?
DRAKE: I’m just grateful to be in the big leagues playing baseball. That’s something I’ve told a bunch of people. I mean that’s not exactly a goal I set out to accomplish, but you know, I’m happy that five teams have given me a chance this year; it’s a something I’m very grateful for.
DZ: How do you deal with the highs and lows, like kind of that rejection and then that hope again, over and over again?
DRAKE: You’ve heard a lot of people say this game can humble you real quick. So, it’s one of those things you don’t get too high, you don’t get too low with anything. You just try to stay even keel. When things are going good, you just try to keep going with them. When they’re going bad, you just keep working too, and hope for the good times to come.
DZ: I read that you went to the Naval Academy for a couple years. Did the training…you got there, did that help you be more resilient and deal with this kind of adversity?
DRAKE: The two years there just prepared me in all aspects of life. What you go through there is just an incredible experience and just teaches you a lot.
DZ: How hectic has your personal life been this year?
DRAKE: It’s been crazy. My wife’s been with me, we’ve been traveling all over. We haven’t had a chance to really get settled anywhere, so it’s just constantly on the move, on the go, living out of suitcases. So it’s a little tough, but that’s the baseball life.
DZ: Are you getting jersey collection going or anything like that?
DRAKE: Yeah. So far, I’ve got jersey’s from I think all the teams right now…So it’s pretty cool.
See more of David Zingler’s 2018 player interviews:
August 25: Trevor May
July 26: Lindsay Whalen
June 29: Tanisha Wright
June 8: Logan Morrison
June 4: Mitch Garver
April 17: Brian Dozier
April 15: Ryan LaMarre
April 14: Addison Reed
January 27: Chip Lohmiller