Former Lincoln ace Chris Jakubauskas, the first ex-Saltdogs player to reach the major leagues, will have a new professional home in 2010. After spending his rookie season in the bigs with the Seattle Mariners, Jakubauskas was claimed on waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates on November 20.
According to a story on the official Pirates website, the Pirates plan to give Jakubauskas a chance to compete for a spot in the bullpen. Pittsburgh sees him as a valuable asset, in part, because he still has minor-league options--meaning he can be sent to the minors without exposing him to the waiver process. To make room for Jakubauskas, Pittsburgh cut righty Jeff Karstens, who is out of options.
According to a story on the official Mariners website, Seattle placed Jakubauskas on waivers and removed him from their 40-man roster to make room for minor-league players who needed to be protected from the December Rule 5 Draft.
On April 8, 2009, Jakubauskas appeared as a relief pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, becoming the first former Saltdogs player to appear in a regular-season major league game. The 30-year-old was signed by the Mariners organization in June of 2007, after he went 6-0 in seven starts for Lincoln to open the season. Chris entered spring training 2009 as a non-roster invitee to Mariners camp, but earned his place on the Opening Day roster with an outstanding spring.
Jakubauskas spent nearly the entire season in the major leagues, except for a one-week stint in AAA ball in August to rest a sore shoulder. He earned his first win in just his second outing, a relief appearance at Oakland, and then moved into the starting rotation. Chris made eight starts in April and May, going 2-5 as a starter before moving back to the bullpen. Overall, Jakubauskas went 6-7 on the season with a 5.32 ERA in 35 games for Seattle. As a reliever, he went 4-2 with a 4.30 ERA. Chris also finished strong despite the sore shoulder, allowing just six runs over the final two months of the season. He even picked his first two major-league at-bats, going 0-for-2 in interleague play.
WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT CHRIS JAKUBAUSKAS
August 9: MLB.com writer Rhett Bollinger included Jakubauskas in an article on independent baseball. Click here to read it.
April 18: Independent baseball blogger Bob Wirz had this to say about Jak after his first start: "It seems to be a trend for 30-year-old rookie Jakubauskas to make news. Following up on his surprise leadership of the Cactus League with a 1.99 earned run average this spring and his equally surprising earning of a spot with Seattle, the righthander got his first big league start (in only his third appearance). He ended up with a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but that is misleading in that the longtime Independent leaguer had a 1-0 lead through five innings and had retired 15 of the first 18 hitters he faced. He came out after allowing two of the first three hitters in the sixth to get hits, and the Angels posted a five-run inning against the bullpen. What smiles Jakubauskas has to be delivering in Lincoln, NE (American Association), Fullerton, CA (Golden League), Ohio Valley and Florence, KY (Frontier League) where he labored the first four plus of his professional seasons. He was signed out of Lincoln only in 2007."
Bob Wirz authors the blog www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. He also writes the subscription-only Independent Baseball Insider column which is available at www.WirzandAssociates.com.
April 17: An ESPN.com article featuring Jakubauskas, written by Jim Caple. Click here to view it.
April 16: Because of an injury in the Seattle roation, Jakubauskas made his first career big-league start, at home against the Angels. Click here for more details from the Mariners' official website.
April 15: Jakubauskas was featured in an ESPN.com column, written by Jerry Crasnick, on longshots who found their way to the major leagues this season. You can view the article by clicking here.