WALTHAM, Mass. – Nelson Figueroa '98, the most successful product of the Brandeis University baseball program, has made a return to New England. Figueroa, who spent time in the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees organizations in 2012, was signed by the Boston Red Sox on July 24. Figueroa was assigned to AAA Pawtucket and has made two appearances so far for the PawSox.
After spending spring training inToronto's camp, Figueroa signed with the Yankees. Figueroa was released by New York in July after going 7-2 with a 3.96 ERA for their AAA affiliate in Scranton-Wilkes Barre, allowing 79 hits in 72 2/3 innings this season, with 36 strikeouts and 25 walks. Since joining Pawtucket, he is 1-1 with a 2.97 ERA, striking out 10 and walking four with eight hits and three earned runs allowed in nine-and-two-thirds innings.
Figueroa defeated the International League's best team, Indianapolis, in his debut with the Red Sox organization on July 25, then suffered the loss against his former Scranton-Wilkes Barre squad on July 30, despite allowing just three hits and one run with six strikeouts in 4.2 innings of relief of Daisuke Matsuzaka. The PawSox had just three hits in a 2-1 loss. Figueroa is expected to make start against Lehigh Valley during Pawtucket's next homestand.
Figueroa is the only baseball player in team history who has had his number retired when his #2 was taken out of circulation in 2009. Figueroa first appeared in the major leagues with the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2000. He bounced between the majors and minors for four seasons in the Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh organizations through the 2004 season.
Figueroa traveled the globe for four years before returning to the big leagues in 2008 with the New York Mets, the Brooklyn native's hometown team. After an impressive performance in Asia and the Caribbean World Series, Figueroa was the last player sent to the minors out of New York's training camp. When future Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez went down in his first start of the campaign, Figueroa was recalled from Triple A, pitching five perfect innings and six frames of two-hit ball to earn the win for the organization that had drafted him 13 years earlier.
In 2009, he became the first Met player to pitch a complete-game shutout in the team's new stadium, Citi Field, when he blanked the Houston Astros, 4-0, in the final game of the regular-season. He started 2010 on his second stint with the Phillies, but was claimed off waivers by Houston midway through the season. Figueroa had the finest season of his career at the age of 36, posting a 7-4 record with a 3.29 ERA between the two teams, earning himself the first off-season contract in his eight seasons in the big leagues.