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José Antonio Rijo Abreu (born May 13, 1965 in San Cristóbalmarker, Dominican Republicmarker) is a former right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who spent the majority of his career with the Cincinnati Reds (1988-1995 and 2001-2002).

Playing career

Plagued by injuries during his career, he left the major leagues at age 30 before returning six years later for one and a half seasons. Rijo is perhaps best known for his performance in the 1990 World Series, when he recorded two victories in a four-game sweep over the defending champion Oakland A's, including a two-hitter in the final Game Four. Rijo's performance earned him the World Series MVP Award as the Reds won their first championship in fourteen years.

When Rijo broke into the majors with the New York Yankees in 1984, he was 18 years old and the youngest player in either league. The previous year, he'd had a 15-5 record in the Florida League with a 1.68 ERA. But he did not have a good rookie season, and some observers (notably ESPN) commented that Yankee owner George Steinbrenner had orchestrated the call-up, hoping to create a phenom along the lines of the crosstown Mets' 1984 rookie sensation Dwight Gooden. When this did not happen, Rijo was sent to the Oakland A's as part of a trade package for Rickey Henderson.

While with the Oakland Athletics, he struck out 16 Seattle Mariners on April 16, , setting a club record. In his next start, he struck out fourteen in a two-hitter against the same Mariners organization, despite losing the game. But his time in Oakland was otherwise largely nondescript, with just 17 wins in three seasons. Even so, Rijo was still considered enough of a prospect for the Reds to acquire him in exchange for aging slugger Dave Parker, who'd had 338 runs batted in over the previous three seasons.

Rijo's age eventually caught up to his talent. He was a member of the National League All-Star Team in . Rijo also led the league in and 1994 in games started. He led the NL in 1993 in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings, and in he led the NL in winning percentage.

Rijo was 3-0 in the 1990 postseason, including two World Series wins against Oakland, the team that had traded him away three years before. After winning Game One by a 7-0 score, he shut down the A's on two hits in Game Four (both in the first inning), ending the Series with a 0.59 earned run average and 15 strikeouts in 15-1/3 innings. It was the only postseason experience of his entire career.

Rijo pitched a one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies in 1993. The year after his All-Star season ( ), Rijo was sidelined with a serious elbow injury. Despite several comeback attempts, his elbow troubles kept him out of baseball for five full years. Rijo made an unexpected comeback to the game in , returning to Cincinnati as a reliever. In doing so, Rijo became the first major league player to appear in a game after having received a Baseball Hall of Famemarker vote since Minnie Miñoso (who received six Hall of Fame votes in 1969) appeared for the Chicago White Sox in . In 2008, Rijo was again on the Hall of Fame ballot; he received no votes.

In 2002, his final season, Rijo received the Tony Conigliaro Award. He made a handful of starts that year, including a win in his first start since 1995, and the last game at Riverfront Stadiummarker.

Life after retirement

Rijo used to work as a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden of the Washington Nationals baseball team. Starting in February 2009, he took a leave of absence from his position after it was discovered that one of Rijo's scouting finds, Dominicanmarker shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez was actually named Carlos David Alvarez Lugo and was four years older than the Nationals believed when they signed him. On February 25, Rijo was dismissed from the Nationals' organization and his Dominican baseball academy closed down.

Rijo was once married to Juan Marichal's daughter.

Rijo had a supporting role in the 2008 baseball film Sugar.

See also


External links

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