Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister covers everything in Cincinnati sports! Host of sports talk on Cincinnati News Radio 700WLW and ESPN 1530!Full Bio


This date '01: Jose Rijo returns after missing five seasons

August 17, 2001

Jose Rijo returned to the majors after a five year absence. He tossed two scoreless innings vs Milwaukee.

Box score HERE.

The 37-year old Rijo had missed five ML seasons with elbow issues from 1996-2000. 

He had three Tommy John surgeries and a total of five elbow surgeries.


John Erardi wrote about the comeback:

The last time, the third Tommy John surgery, there was virtually no ligament left to attach to the two bones to keep Jose Rijo's throwing arm together. So Dr. James Andrews winged it. “He had to find a strand of ligament, a strand of tendon, anything he could find in there that would stay together and heal,” Reds medical director Tim Kremchek said. "It's biblical,” Bowden says. “If the good Lord's going to bless someone, give someone a miracle, he's going to pick someone like Jose Rijo. Jose represents the word perseverance better than any baseball player, probably ever in the game.”


He appeared in 13 games, all in relief, tossing 17 innings with a 2.13 ERA.

Rijo had planned to retire following the comeback in 2001, but decided he could not walk away from the game. He went to spring training with the Reds and made the roster.

After four relief appearances to begin the 2002 season, Rijo took the mound as a starter on April 21, 2002. He had gone seven years between ML starts and wins.

He pitched five innings, not allowing an earned run, to beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 at Wrigley Field. 

Rijo would appear in 31 games in 2002, making nine starts.

He went 5-4 with a 5.19 ERA. It would be his final season in major league baseball.

Rijo retired with a career record of 116-91 3.24, a World Series MVP, an All-Star appearance and two Top 5 Cy Young Award finishes.

What a comeback....what a character....what a career. 

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