Josh Kinney back in the St. Louis bullpen

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
September 11, 2008

October 26, 2006.

The last time relief pitcher Josh Kinney walked to the mound in a major league game, his Saint Louis Cardinals were three innings away from taking a 3-1 lead in the World Series. The Cards would finish off the Detroit Tigers the following night to win their tenth world championship, and it’s not stretching the imagination to assume that a majority of the television sets in Port Allegany and Roulette were tuned to the game and the celebration that followed.

The 1997 Port High graduate realized his dream on the Busch Stadium field that autumn, and took the entire area along with him for an unforgettable ride. However, disaster struck the next spring. Kinney’s elbow locked up on him in a spring training game, and doctors discovered he’d need “Tommy John” surgery to replace the frayed and torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

Then, while he was working his way back from the surgery, he broke a small bone in the elbow during a throwing session in August, and it was back to Square One for more rehab.

“It’s not really the way you want to go start the season off after winning a World Series,” Kinney told MLB.com. “To start out having an injury like that, it’s already going to cost you a year. You get turned around and you think that’s bad and then you blow off a bone and that takes another year.”

Almost 700 days have passed since that rainy October night in Saint Louis, and Kinney’s long, arduous trip back to the major leagues is all but complete. Although he has yet to pitch in a game for the Cardinals, he rejoined the big-league club during their road trip to Arizona on Sept. 2, after a successful week-long rehab stint with the Cards’ Double-A affiliate in Springfield.

“Somehow or another I look back and it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long since the World Series. But it has, and here I am,” said the righthander, who turned 29 in March. “I’m just fortunate enough to be able to count my blessings and get to be able to get back to where I’m at now.”

Kinney will be close to home this weekend, when the Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh for a three-game series with the Pirates. (Game times are set for 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, and 1:35 p.m. Sunday afternoon.) More than a few area residents are expected to make the 3.5-hour trip south to cheer on one of Port’s favorite sons.

Those interesting in buying tickets to any of this weekend’s games can either visit the Pirates’ Web site at http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com or call 1-800-BUY-BUCS.

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