Happy Birthday–January 8

Walker Cooper (1915)
Jim Busby (1927)
Gene Freese (1934)
Reno Bertoia (1935)
Bruce Sutter (1953)
Ramon Romero (1959)
Randy Ready (1960)
Brian Boehringer (1969)
Jason Giambi (1971)
Mike Cameron (1973)
Carl Pavano (1976)
Jeff Francis (1981)
Jeff Francoeur (1984)

Three players named Jeff were born on this day.  In addition to the two listed above, this is also the birthday of Jeff Hoffman of the Colorado Rockies.

One of the original Twins, infielder Reno Peter Bertoia was with Minnesota for about two months at the beginning of the 1961 season. He was born in St. Vito Udine, Italy, the most successful of six Italian-born major league players. When he was 22 months old, his family moved to Windsor, Ontario, which is where Bertoia grew up. He attended Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts and was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1953 as a "bonus baby", meaning he had to spend two years in the majors, rather than going to the minor leagues. In fact, he did not see the minors until mid-May of 1956. This was probably a negative for his career, as he was seldom used--he had only 171 at-bats in the majors through the 1956 season. He played well at AAA Charleston in 1956, which moved him up to semi-regular status with the Tigers for 1957 and 1958. 1957 was probably his best year in the majors, as he hit .275 with 16 doubles in 295 at-bats. After the 1958 season, he was traded to Washington with Jim Delsing and Ron Samford for Rocky Bridges, Neil Chrisley, and Eddie Yost. He remained a semi-regular in 1959, but was given the regular third base job in 1960, his only year as a regular in the big leagues. He had one of his best years, hitting .265 with 17 doubles and 7 triples. He remained the regular when the team moved to Minnesota in 1961, but slumped early, hitting only .212 in 104 at-bats. On June 1, he was traded to Kansas City with Paul Giel and cash in exchange for Bill Tuttle and a player to be named later (the player to be named later turned out to be Paul Giel, meaning Bertoia was essentially traded with cash for Tuttle). He did a little better for the Athletics, but not a lot, and was traded back to Detroit in early August. He played a little for the Tigers at the start of 1962, mostly as a pinch-runner, and then went to the minors. He also spent time in the Senators and Mets organizations that year. He was back in AAA with Detroit in 1963 and hit .322 in 121 at-bats for Syracuse, but it did not get him back to the majors. He played in Japan in 1964, then returned to Windsor, where he became a college teacher and scout.  He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.  Reno Bertoia passed away from lymphoma in Windsor on April 15, 2011.

Left-hander Ramon (De Los Santos) Romero did not play for the Twins, but was in their minor league system in 1986. He was tall and thin, standing 6’4” but weighing only 170 pounds. He was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic and signed with Cleveland in 1976. He was primarily a relief pitcher in the minors, although he made a few starts almost every year. He struggled early on, partly with his control and partly with being too hittable. The control always remained an issue, but he became less hittable, having his first good year in 1980 at Class A Waterloo. His wildness meant he rose through the minors very slowly, not reaching AAA until 1984. He got a September call-up that year and made one appearance, pitching three perfect innings with three strikeouts against Seattle. He spent about half the 1985 season with the Indians, with two months of that time spent in the starting rotation. It did not go well: he went 2-3, 6.58 in 64.1 innings. While his control continued to be a problem, his main trouble in the majors was the home-run ball, as he allowed 13 round trippers. That off-season, Cleveland traded Romero to Minnesota along with Roy Smith for Bryan Oelkers and Ken Schrom. He went 8-4, but with a 6.25 ERA and a 2.04 WHIP in a season mostly spent in AA. His playing career came to an end after that. He moved to the New York area and died from a fall on October 13, 1988 at the young age of twenty-nine.

Right-hander Carl Anthony Pavano pitched for the Twins in 2009-2012. Born in New Britain, Connecticut, he went to high school in Southington, Connecticut. He was drafted by Boston in the 13th round in 1994. Pavano pitched quite well throughout his minor league career, but after the 1997 season was traded to Montreal as part of a deal for Pedro Martinez. He was rather up-and-down as an Expo, with his best year coming in 2000, when he was 8-4, 3.06 in 15 starts. He had injury problems that year, as would happen often in his career. In July of 2002, Pavano was traded to Florida as part of a multi-player trade. He had some fine years with the Marlins, due partly to the fact that he was able to stay healthy. The best one was 2004, when he was 18-8, 3.00 with a 1.17 WHIP. He made the all-star team for the only time that year and finished sixth in Cy Young voting. A free agent after that season, he signed with the Yankees. As is well known, that did not go well. Pavano was injured for much of his time as a Yankee, and did not pitch very well when he could pitch. He was a free agent again after the 2008 season and signed with Cleveland. On August 7, 2009, the Indians traded Pavano to Minnesota for a player to be named later (Yohan Pino).  He pitched well in 2010, but less well in 2011, although he pitched over 200 innings for the second consecutive year.  He missed much of 2012 due to injury, however, and did poorly when he tried to pitch. As a Twin, he went 33-33, 4.32, 1.30 WHIP in 579.2 innings (88 starts).  In February of 2013, he ruptured his spleen while shoveling snow and nearly died.  He had hoped to come back, but could never get healthy enough to do so, and retired in February of 2014.  At last report, Carl Pavano was living part of the time in Vermont and the rest in Florida.  He has founded the Pitch In Foundation, which has the goal of improving the lives of families and creating hope for children in need.

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