By RU Sports Information Tuesday, August 28 2012 00:00
After more than a decade away and a four-year stint with the Colorado Rockies, Ryan Speier has returned to Radford University and will join the baseball staff for the upcoming 2013 season as the student assistant coach for Highlanders.
Speier, the second Highlander to reach the major leagues, spent 2005 through 2009 in Colorado and pitched in the 2007 World Series. He also played a season in Japan with the Pacific League's Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2011. Speier pitched at Radford from 1998-2001, leaving the Highlanders following the 2001 campaign to sign as a free agent with the Rockies.
“This is a huge opportunity for me,” Speier said. “As long as I can remember, I've really wanted to get involved in college coaching and this is a great spot for me since I have an attachment to the team and a good relationship with coach Raccuia. I know I'll be in good hands with him as a mentor and I think I'm going to learn a lot here.”
“He wants to give back to players and help them understand what it takes to be a better player and better person,” head coach Joe Raccuia said. “We're definitely excited to have him back. Ryan's an alumnus that had success and even though he's already lived his dream, the chance to graduate and get his education is still important. But he also wants to make a career out of college baseball and we're glad to help him get his feet wet.”
At Radford, Speier will work with the pitching staff – he'll also balance baseball with completing his course work in psychology.
“Getting a degree is definitely something I have to do and I'm glad to finally be knocking that out,” Speier said. “I was able to squeeze 12 years out of a career in baseball and along the way, I decided that I wanted to be a lifer. I've been around the game at a high level and know what it takes to be successful – Radford is definitely a good fit for me to pursue that.”
Speier, whose road to the majors included 22 appearances for the Salem Avalanche in 2002, was named the Minor League Baseball Rolaids Relief Man award winner in 2004 after 37 saves at Double-A Tulsa – he was the first Rockies farmhand to earn this distinction.
After earning a roster spot out of spring training in 2005, Speier won his major league debut on Opening Day in relief against the Padres, becoming just the fourth rookie since 1960 to win his debut on Opening Day. He was on the postseason roster for the Rockies in 2007 - their only World Series appearance – and earned a Division Series save against the Phillies.
Speier finished his four seasons in the major leagues with a 7-3 record and 3.99 ERA in 90 relief outings.
Photo courtesy of RU Sports Information
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