Royals ink Ponson to Minors deal
Righty starred for Netherlands in Cinderella Classic bid
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Sidney Ponson, who pitched for the amazing Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic, was signed Tuesday by the Royals to a Minor League contract.
Ponson was invited to the Major League camp and will report on Wednesday.
"He's going to get an opportunity," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "Our depth is not what we wish it was."
Ponson, 32, made two starts in the Classic for The Netherlands, which twice stunned the Dominican Republic. He was the winner in the first victory over the Dominicans, 3-2, when he started and went four innings, giving up two runs in four innings. In his other start, he lost, 3-1, to Venezuela, giving up two runs in five innings.
"We scouted him in the WBC and our scouts were very, very persistent in their recommendations," Moore said. "They just liked the way he pitched and the way he competed.
"The results, obviously, were very good. He pitched and performed very well, and our scouts were strongly recommending that we bring him in as somebody that gives us needed depth."
The Royals seem set with Gil Meche, Zack Greinke and Kyle Davies in the rotation, with Luke Hochevar, Brian Bannister and Horacio Ramirez competing for the other two spots.
Now, Ponson might enter that picture.
Although terms were not disclosed, Moore said there's no big contract or guaranteed money involved.
"It's a Minor League contract; it's very low risk," Moore said.
On Monday, it was reported that Ponson reached a settlement of a grievance, filed on Dec. 17, stemming from his release by the Baltimore Orioles in 2005. According to the AP, at the time, Orioles owner Peter Angelos contended that Ponson's conduct and problems with alcohol gave the club grounds to void his contract. He had been arrested on charges of driving under the influence.
Ponson, who had one season left on a three-year deal, contended he was owed about $10.1 million. The amount of the settlement was not divulged.
Last season Ponson pitched for the Texas Rangers, going 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA in nine starts, and for the New York Yankees, going 4-4 with a 5.85 ERA in 16 games (15 starts).
He was abruptly dropped by the Rangers last June 6 and subsequently released. Team owner Tom Hicks said at the time: "We don't feel Sidney deserves to be here or wants to be here."
In 2004, Ponson was arrested in his native Aruba and charged with assaulting a judge following an incident about a complaint of Ponson's handling of his powerboat. He spent 11 days in jail, but charges were dropped after a settlement agreement.
Just the year before, Ponson acquired the title of "Sir Sidney" when he was made a knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, because of his baseball success.
The Royals, of course, were aware of the controversies.
"It's just like anybody else in society that made a mistake; people have to make a decision if they want to forgive that individual for what they did or what they didn't do and make a decision to move on," Moore said.
Ponson has played in 11 Major League seasons, also pitching for San Francisco, St. Louis and Minnesota. His career record is 90-106 with a 4.95 ERA in 284 games (269 starts).
In 2003, he was a combined 17-12 for Baltimore and San Francisco. After going 14-6 with a 3.77 ERA for the Orioles, he was dealt to the Giants and was 3-6 in 10 starts. Following the season, he became a free agent and re-signed with the Orioles.
Interestingly, when Ponson reports to the Royals' clubhouse on Wednesday, he'll encounter two of the players from the Dominican Republic team that he helped eliminate in the Classic -- Jose Guillen and Miguel Olivo.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.