Ryan Freel, who appeared in nine games with the Orioles during the 2009 season, has died at 36. Freel committed suicide, according to a report from First Coast News in Jacksonville.
The Orioles acquired Freel from the Cincinnati Reds on Dec. 9, 2008 for catcher Ramon Hernandez. They also received infielders Brandon Waring, who remains in the organization, and Justin Turner.
The Orioles traded Freel to the Chicago Cubs on May 8, 2009, for outfielder Joey Gathright. The Royals purchased his contract on July 6 and released him a month later. He signed with the Rangers as a free agent on Aug. 28, 2009, was granted free agency in November and never returned to the majors.
Freel went 2-for-15 with an RBI in nine games with the Orioles. He finished his career with the independent Somerset Patriots in 2010.
According to the First Coast News report, Freel was coaching youth baseball players in Jacksonville through an organization called “BLD Baseball.” He was named head baseball coach at St. Joseph Academy in June.
Freel sustained numerous concussions during his playing career, which will lead to speculation about whether the head trauma contributed to his suicide. This 2007 article suggests that Freel had suffered nine or 10 concussions.
His willingness to run through an outfield fence and sacrifice his body became part of the story when the Orioles traded for him. I wrote about it, as did everyone else on the beat.
Now it’s a chilling reminder of his brief career with the Orioles, and a likely explanation for his tragic death.