Like a number of short-timers before him, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Fernando Salas wore number 59 for his one-game MLB introduction before returning to Triple-A.
When reliever Fernando Salas was added to the 40-man roster upon his promotion from Triple-A Memphis, he was assigned uniform number 59. With the Cardinals preferring to keep their players’ numbers under 60 and Salas having worn number 72 in spring training, alternatives were few and far between.
Salas, who made his major league debut in Chicago on Friday and was sent back down on Saturday, took the number last assigned during the regular season to infielder Rico Washington two years ago.
Rico made his 14-game MLB debut at the start of the 2008 season due to an injury to Brendan Ryan. While Washington had only three career major league hits in 19 tries (.158), he can boast that each drove in a run.
Washington, who was back in the minors before April was out and was not retained by the Cardinals that fall, since has made a number of stops. He played in China and is currently a member of the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent Northern League. Rico will celebrate his 32nd birthday on Sunday.
Reliever Dennis Dove, now out of the game, wore the #59 during one week of the previous season, 2007. Site contributor Tom Orf adds that Dove was called up after Josh Hancock’s death, but got shelled (five earned runs in three innings). That led to the Todd Wellemeyer signing, he recalls. The longest wearer of #59 was not a player. Former bullpen coach Dan Held donned it from 2004-06.
It was trotted out twice during the 1990s. Reliever Gary Buckels, who took the mound in only 10 MLB games, wore #59 in July and August of 1994. Journeyman catcher Marcus Jensen sported the number in 1999 as he appeared in 16 games.
Right-handed reliever Matt Kinzer was briefly assigned the number. He spent eight games of his nine-game MLB career with the 1989 club.
As Washington was the last, Skeeter Barnes was the first Cardinals #59. Orf recalls that in 1987, the utilityman hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat as a Cardinal then went 0-for-3 as a pinch-hitter and soon was gone. Barnes also played in the bigs for Cincinnati (twice), Montreal and Detroit.
Coming full circle, Salas became the seventh number 59 Cardinal player. The common thread is that all of the previous wearers didn’t last long in St. Louis. Perhaps Salas will be back, however.