MILWAUKEE — Cody Ransom doesn’t remember much from the experience, but the shortstop’s career with the Milwaukee Brewers actually started much, much earlier than that of any active player on Milwaukee’s roster.
As a grade school kid growing up in Chandler, Ariz., Ransom lived only a few miles from the Brewers’ spring training facility. Since Ransom’s family knew people at the facility — the town wasn’t very big in those days, he says — the young Ransom was handed the honorable title of Brewers’ batboy.
Ransom has landed in a whole lot of destinations since he was last associated with the Brewers. Now, 36 years old with a wife and two kids at home, Ransom hopes Milwaukee may be the final stop in his long, winding career.
Ransom’s career, especially since leaving the San Francisco Giants’ organization, has been a particularly uncertain one. He is, by all accounts, the definition of a baseball journeyman. Now a utility infielder — he started his career as a shortstop — Ransom has spent time with San Francisco, Houston, New York (Yankees), Philadelphia, Arizona and Milwaukee.
Count the minor league cities and that list extends to Salem, Ore., Bakersfield, Calif., Shreveport, La., Fresno, Calif., Des Moines, Iowa, Oklahoma City, Round Rock, Texas, Scranton, Pa., Allentown, Pa., and Reno, Nev. That, by anyone’s standards, is a whole lot of moving around.
But it was in Bakersfield, when Ransom was playing with the Bakersfield Blaze in 1999, that his current manager Ron Roenicke caught word of the shortstop’s potential, especially when it came to his defense.
“When I was with the Giants for the year,” the Brewers manager said Friday, “they always talked about this guy.”
Thirteen years later, Roenicke found himself scrambling for infield depth. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez was already out for the season, as was first baseman Mat Gamel.
When the Diamondbacks placed Ransom on waivers, Roenicke and general manager Doug Melvin saw a golden opportunity to rebuild depth and claimed Ransom on May 23. They had no idea second-string shortstop Cesar Izturis would go on the disabled list three days later and that Ransom would soon become one of the only healthy shortstops in the organization with major league experience.
“We needed the depth,” Roenicke said. “We didn’t know at the time that (Izturis) was going to go down, but it ended up being huge. If we wouldn’t have acquired him, we would’ve been in trouble.”
Ransom was frustrated when the Diamondbacks, his home state team, had let him go, but he knew this was the drill. And the Brewers could offer something that he didn’t have in Phoenix. Their lack of depth meant an opportunity for Ransom, who has been short on those for much of his career. Only once has he had a shot at being an everyday shortstop, and even then, he was injured and unable to contribute as much as he would’ve liked.
Now, with that opportunity in hand, he gives the impression that he’s ready to settle down. The moving has gotten easier for him as he’s grown older, but it’s only gotten harder for his family. He doesn’t want them living out of a hotel room anymore, he said.
So as he entered the clubhouse on Friday and noticed that his name was slotted in the No. 8 spot in the order, the years of experience and repeated movement up and down depth charts was obvious as he spoke.
“I kind of look at each day as a new day to go out and show what you can do regardless of the situation or the opportunity,” Ransom said. “You show up and hope that you can contribute.
“I’ll show them what I can do. All you can do is just come back every day and hope that you’re in the lineup.”
Ransom showed a bit of what he could do in the lineup against his former team in his debut series with the Brewers last weekend, as he registered three hits in just eight at-bats and three RBI as a visitor at Chase Field.
With Izturis still “a ways away” from being healthy again, Ransom will have plenty of time to show the Brewers he’s ready to take advantage of this opportunity and close the book on his journeyman career with the same team it started with.
“I want to prove that I can play, that I can play here and help the team win,” Ransom said. “I want to prove I belong here.”