Indians left-handed pitcher James Russell is getting a chance to revive his career in Cleveland.
Russell was born in Cincinnati in 1986 but attended Heritage High School in Heritage, Texas. His father Jeff graduated from Wyoming High School near Cincinnati.
The older Russell was lucky enogh to be drafted fifth by the Reds and pitched for his hometown team. The Reds traded him to Texas Rangers for another Cincinnatian, Buddy Bell.
Jeff lost a National League high 18 games in 1984. The Rangers converted him to a closer and he led the American League with 35 saves in 1989.
Russell was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Victor Caratini and made 22 appearances with Atlanta under Colerain High School grad Roger McDowell, the Braves pitching coach.
After Russell's release he was resigned with the Cubs for 2015.
Russell was granted free agency at the end of the season and got a call from Indians' manager Terrry Francona, who played against his father. He signed with Philadelphia instead.
It didn't go well for Russell.
I just had a rough stretch in April, a rough five or six innings," Russell said. "They were in a rebuilding process.and brought up a younger kid who did well. It wasn't in their deck of cards for to come back up. It's part of the business. There is nothing against the Phillies. They treated me well."
This winter Russell was ready to sign with another team when Francona called him again.
"Terry told me they had a spot for me in big league camp," Russell said. "I was happy they thought about me again. This is a great group of guys. It's a great place to be. It's a team that wants to win now"
The Indians have lefties Andrew Miller and Boone Logan in camp. Miller is going to pitch in theWorld Baseball Classic. Cleveland also signed LHP Chris Narveson.
"We told him there was a spot or two in the bullpen," Francona said. "He was ready to pitch. We told him to come in. We didn't have a lot of pitchers in camp. Things happen. We'll be honest with you. If it isn't us, there are scouts at every game. He's going to get a chance to pitch. We wouldn't bring them in if they weren't going to pitch. James isn't too far removed from having some pretty good years.
Russell still has roots in Cincinnati. He grandfather Don owns SmoQ on 275 Pictoria Drive off Dixie Highway in Fairfield.