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Sidney Ponson

With the Texas Rangers in 2008
Free Agent — No. --
Starting pitcher
Born: November 2, 1976 (1976-11-02) (age 33)
Noord, Aruba
Bats: Right Throws: Right 
MLB debut
April 19, 1998 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
(through July 16, 2009)
Win-Loss     91-111
Earned run average     5.00
Strikeouts     1023

Sidney Alton Ponson (born November 2, 1976 in Noord, Aruba) is a starting pitcher who is currently a free agent. Ponson stands at 6'1" tall and weighs 260 pounds. He bats and throws right-handed. When he made his Major League debut for the Orioles in 1998, he became the third player from Aruba to play in the major leagues. After the 2003 season, he was decorated with a Order of Orange-Nassau, in the grade Knight, along with fellow baseball players Eugene Kingsale and Calvin Maduro.[1] He was picked up by the Orioles as an amateur in 1993.


Baltimore Orioles

Ponson has played most of his career with the Baltimore Orioles. In 2003, he went 14-6 with a 3.77 ERA for the Orioles. Because Baltimore was not in contention for a playoff spot and Ponson was in the last year of his contract, the Orioles traded Ponson to the San Francisco Giants at the trading deadline for three players: Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss, and prospect Ryan Hannaman. At the end of the 2003 season, Ponson re-signed a 3 year, $22.5 million contract with the Orioles.

In 2004, Ponson was the opening day starter for Baltimore. However, he started off disastrously; his record was 3-12 by the All-Star Break. He rebounded for a strong second half, going 8-3 to finish with an 11-15 record and a 5.30 ERA.


Brushes with the law

On December 25, 2004, Ponson was arrested in Aruba and charged with assaulting an Aruban judge following an incident about a complaint of Ponson's handling of his powerboat. He spent 11 days in jail, but the charges were dropped after he reached a settlement that included restitution, community service and contributions to local charities on the island.

Less than a month later, in January 2005, he was charged with driving under the influence in Broward County, Florida. Because of these activities, it was thought that he would not be able to enter Canada to pitch in a series against the Toronto Blue Jays in May 2005.[2][3] However, a visa was later granted, and he was able to make his scheduled start.

2nd drunk driving incident

Early in the morning of August 25, 2005, Ponson was arrested for driving under the influence and driving while impaired on southbound Interstate 95 near downtown Baltimore, Maryland. He was stopped for following too closely and was subsequently arrested by Maryland Transportation Authority Police for the traffic violation, DWI; he was later released.[4]

Released by the Orioles

Just prior to the second drunk driving incident, Baltimore attempted to trade Ponson to the San Diego Padres for first baseman Phil Nevin at the 2005 trade deadline, but the deal fell through when Nevin invoked his no-trade clause. Nevin eventually was traded to Texas.[5] On September 1, 2005, the Orioles released Ponson and voided his contract, saying that his infractions with the law went against a morals clause in Major League Baseball contracts. A week later, on September 8, the Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance on Ponson's behalf. On December 12, 2005, Ponson was sentenced to five days in the Baltimore city jail after he was found guilty of driving while impaired. He was also fined $535. He was released from jail on December 19.

St. Louis Cardinals

On December 21, 2005, Ponson signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals calling for a $1 million salary with the ability to earn an additional $1.5 million in incentives. Although his season started promisingly, Ponson struggled with stamina and rarely went more than five innings in his starts. On July 7, 2006, the Cardinals designated Ponson for assignment, ending his stint with the Cardinals.

New York Yankees

On July 14, 2006, he signed on with the New York Yankees. The Yankees won his first game, lost the second game, and he was subsequently sent to the bullpen when the Yankees acquired Cory Lidle from the Philadelphia Phillies. Reportedly, Brian Cashman asked Ponson if he would be amenable to being placed in the pen before going ahead with the trade (which also involved acquiring Bobby Abreu). If Ponson had refused, he would have been released and the trade that sent Shawn Chacon to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Craig Wilson would have fallen through.[6] After a poor pitching performance on August 18, 2006, the Yankees released Ponson, making him a free agent.

Minnesota Twins

In January 2007, he signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins and on March 31, 2007, his contract was purchased by the Twins and he was added to their 25-man roster as the fifth starter. He got off to a relatively slow start, having only a couple quality starts while his ERA hovered around 7. On May 13, the Twins designated him for assignment,[7] and he was later released.

Texas Rangers

On March 9, 2008, Ponson signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Texas Rangers. Ponson began the 2008 season with the Triple-A Oklahoma RedHawks. On April 26, his contract was purchased.

On June 6, 2008, despite having a 4-1 record and 3.88 ERA for the season, Texas abruptly designated the starter for assignment. He was placed on release waivers on June 16. Rangers general manager John Daniels acting on direct orders from Owner Tom Hicks explained, "We don't feel Sidney deserves to be here or wants to be here. We're not going to get into details other than to say we're clearly trying to put together a team here, in a true sense of the word. Based on some recent comments and other such things, it was pretty clear that he did not want to be part of that, and it's something we're not going to tolerate."[8]

Return to the Yankees

On June 9, 2008, Ponson signed a minor league deal returning to the Yankees for a second time. He made his first start on June 27, 2008 in a Subway Series against the Mets. Ponson pitched 6 shutout innings in his first start back with the Yankees, which they eventually won 9-0. His record with the Yankees in 2008 was 4-4 with a 5.85 ERA. For the season, he had the highest run support of all pitchers, with an average of 6.5 runs per game started.[1]

World Baseball Classic

Ponson pitched for the Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.[9] Ponson would finish with an ERA of 4.00 in nine innings pitched over two appearances, earning the win for the Dutch in their shocking opening win over the heavily-favored Dominican Republic. He was, however, the losing pitcher in the Dutch's second-round defeat to Venezuela. On June 26, 2009, it was announced that he violated the IBAF/WADA doping regulation during the 2009 World Baseball Classic by taking Phentermine and is banned from international baseball tournament for two years. He will be allowed to play professionally in the US, however, since the American association does not validate the European laboratory results.

Kansas City Royals

On March 17, 2009, two days after Netherlands' elimination from the World Baseball Classic, Ponson signed a minor league deal to play for the Kansas City Royals and was invited to spring training.[10] On April 10, 2009, the Royals purchased Ponson's contract and he made his debut the same day against the New York Yankees. He pitched six innings, and gave up four earned runs for the loss. He made his second start for the Royals on April 15, in which he allowed only two runs in six innings. Ponson got a no decision in the 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians.[11] After a record of 1-7 with an ERA of 7.36, he was designated for assignment by the Royals on August 2, and released August 12.


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