ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bobby LaFromboise has pitched in only 10 major league games, but he made enough of an impression to earn a pretty juicy nickname from Seattle Mariners fans.
But times aren’t so sweet right now for The Raspberry.
In a matter of a few weeks, the former University of New Mexico pitcher went from being a potential major leaguer to minor league camp to a sort of unemployed limbo.
LaFromboise, whose surname is spelled similarly to the French word for raspberry (framboise), was sent to the Mariners’ minor league camp March 15, ending his hopes of breaking camp with the big league squad. But that wasn’t the only bad news for the 27-year-old lefty.
Thursday, the Mariners signed 6-foot-10 MLB veteran Chris Young, and LaFromboise was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
“It was going great until (Thursday),” LaFromboise said. “I’m still a little confused about it. I understand it’s a job and teams need starting pitching. That’s what they went and got, and I was the guy they needed to take off the roster for it. You never expect that to happen.”
By designating LaFromboise, who was selected in the eighth round of the 2008 MLB draft, for assignment, Seattle removes him from its 40-man roster and has 10 days to either trade him, release him or put him on waivers. If LaFromboise clears waivers, Seattle can send him to the minor leagues.
Since this is the first time in his career he’s been removed from the 40-man roster, LaFromboise must accept his assignment.
“Which is something I’m more than willing to do,” LaFromboise said. “I’ve been a Mariner for six years, and I love the organization and I love all the guys here. So it’s not something I’m worried about.”
LaFromboise isn’t worried but right now he isn’t pitching either.
“I’ve been sitting around waiting for a phone call,” LaFromboise said. “I can’t go throw or anything with the Mariners because, technically, I’m not on their roster right now.”
LaFromboise saw action in 10 games with Seattle last season, posting a 5.91 ERA in a relief role. He pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out two Astros in his major league debut April 10.
LaFromboise was sent down a week later, then called up again to pitch in one game in July. He was recalled in September when MLB rosters expanded.
“The first time it was a little bit of a shock to me, not only getting called up, but getting sent back down,” LaFromboise said. “I didn’t realize how quick it could actually happen. The second time I knew I was only going to be there for a certain amount of time. And getting called up in September was a great feeling, knowing that they had confidence in me to pitch in the big leagues.”
LaFromboise has already proved he can pitch in the minors, posting a 3.39 ERA in 61 innings at Triple-A last year and putting up a 1.36 mark in 661/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A in 2012.
But after allowing one earned run in just 22/3 innings this spring with the Mariners, LaFromboise was again jettisoned to the minors.
While LaFromboise says he’d prefer to stay in the Seattle organization, he’d be more than happy if it’s a different team on the other end when his phone finally rings.
“I’ll feel good about that, too, because it means another team wants me, ” LaFromboise said. “My first goal is to get back to the big leagues. My second goal is to stay up there however I can.”