Thursday, October 27, 2011
Van Hekken's International Experience far from Over
Picture by the Oklahoma City RedHawks. Used with Permission.
Andy Van Hekken, you just helped lead Team USA to a Bronze Medal in the Baseball World Cup and a Silver Medal in the Pan Am Games, what are you going to do next?
Although Andy Van Hekken's time representing the United States on the baseball field has ended, there are no amusement park trips in his near future. Van Hekken traveled to Houston with Team USA Wednesday. However, after a brief layover in the Bush Airport area, he was back on a plane late Wednesday night to Venezuela, where he will be pitching in the winter season.
While spending October with Team USA was "one of the highlights of (his) career," Van Hekken quickly shifts from a red, white and blue uniform into job seeker attire in Venezuela. He has spent three plus seasons in the Astros' organization and has not ruled out a return to the Houston system. Yet, eligible for minor league free agency, Van Hekken is also looking at other options for 2012.
For Van Hekken, the job seeker, Venezuela provides a final chance to add to his resume as he continues his attempt to return to the big leagues after a nine year hiatus. He split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation for Oklahoma City during the 2011 regular season. He was effective in both roles finishing the campaign with a 3.40 ERA in 129 2/3 innings, second best in the Pacific Coast League.
He continued his effective work in October making four quality starts for the United States in the Baseball World Cup and the Pan Am Games. He had an ERA of 0.96 and picked up three wins in the two competitions. He pitched eight scoreless innings his second start of the World Cup in a game that assured Team USA a spot in the Medal Round of that tournament. His final start of October (in the Pan Am Games) saw him allow two runs in seven innings of a Gold Medal game loss to Canada.