Just a few short months after the bombshell announcement that former San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy will skipper team France in the upcoming World Baseball Classic qualifiers, word is now coming in about another big-league boost for French baseball.
Turns out that for the upcoming season, the country’s top-division baseball league — the D1 — will have a real-deal MLBer among its ranks. The player in question? Retired infielder Desi Relaford of the United States, who spent 11 years in the majors playing for organization such as the Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies, among others.
It appears that the chance to get back on the field — and indulge in some French food and culture in the sunny south — proved too tempting for the 46-year-old Georgia native, who will be suiting up for the suddenly stacked Montpellier Barracudas.
The club made the news official on Sunday with an article and short interview (in French) on its website. The announcement comes just two weeks after Montpellier shared the names of two other U.S. recruits who’ll be wearing Barracuda orange this season: Patrick Cromwell and Andy Cosgrove, friends and former rivals from their university days, when they represented competing programs in the ulta-competitive ACC.
Montpellier finished third last season in the D1, behind the Rouen Huskies and Sénart Templiers, but have their eyes very much focused on a league title, something that has evaded the club since three-peating back in the mid 1990s.
To accomplish that goal, the Barracudas will also be counting on the strong arms of newly acquired pitchers James Murrey and Owen Ozanich, who both grew up in the United States but are now full-time residents in France.
Murrey has a number of D1 seasons under his belt and played most recently for PUC Paris. Ozanich, formerly of the Huskies, played in Italy last season and has also been a fixture over the years for the French national team.