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Question of the Day
Now he’s trying to show the Boston Red Sox he can throw well enough to be part of their bullpen for the second straight season.
And he takes pride in the fact that Callie, who turned 3 in October, has worked hard to be able to throw a ball herself even though she has no radius bone in either forearm and both arms are considerably shorter than normal.
“She’s left-handed,” Atchison said. “She picks it up and she’ll fire it pretty good.”
The 34-year-old right-hander has come a very long way _ professionally, geographically and emotionally _ since the Seattle Mariners drafted him in the 49th round in 1998, hardly a spot for a can’t-miss prospect. That followed rotator cuff surgery while at TCU that nearly ended his career before he left college.
Atchison didn’t reach the majors until 2004, when he went 2-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 25 relief outings with Seattle. He spent most of the next season in the minors, pitching just six games with the Mariners, and didn’t return to the majors until 2007, when he appeared in 22 games with the San Francisco Giants, posting a 4.11 ERA and 0-0 record.
The Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract on Dec. 7, 2007 but released him two weeks later.
By that time, he was already 31. Callie, his only child, was born on Oct. 23, 2007. It was time to take a long look at his family’s future.
The Hanshin Tigers were offering a guaranteed contract. He and his wife Sarah thought a lot and he agreed to it in early January 2008.
“I’d made a little bit in the game, but somebody’s giving me a chance to really set my family up for a long time,” Atchison said. “It was worth taking.”
So the Atchisons headed to Japan.
Before leaving, Callie received transfusions for a low blood platelet count, part of the rare genetic disorder called thrombocytopenia-absent radius (TAR), and had her blood counts monitored in Japan. A low platelet count can inhibit the blood’s ability to clot.
That was “the biggest concern her first year,” said Atchison, soft-spoken and humble. “We needed to get her platelets checked once every two months at that point and the team (Hanshin) set us up so we could get it done.”
He had two strong seasons there, going 12-9 with a 2.77 ERA in 117 outings, 12 as a starter.
That attracted the attention of the Red Sox. When Atchison returned to the United States so Callie could have improved access to medical care, he signed with Boston. She was checked this offseason at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas. The Red Sox helped her get started with physical and occupational therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
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