The Los Angeles Dodgers family was dealt a blow on the day the MLB Lockout was lifted, as the organization learned that 2002 All-Star left-hander Odalis Pérez passed away at his home after what has been reported to be a tragic accident.
Pérez, who joined the Dodgers prior to that ’02 season and immediately leveled up on the mound, spent 10 years in the major leagues and retired following the 2008 season with the Washington Nationals, a campaign that saw him throw the first pitch in the history of Nats Park as the starter of their home opener.
According to sources, Pérez’s passing came following a fall from a ladder, while home alone in the Dominican Republic.
He reportedly suffered a blow to the head. (UPDATE: It’s since been reported Pérez suffered a heart attack, leading to the fall/the injury)
Dodgers left-hander Odalis Pérez passes away in tragic accident
Pérez’s Dodgers career began with the burden of high expectations. He came to Los Angeles as the young centerpiece of the blockbuster Gary Sheffield trade with the Atlanta Braves, alongside Brian Jordan and right-hander Andrew Brown. Though he’d debuted with the Braves at the age of 20, he ascended and found his footing in the MLB landscape in LA at the age of 24.
Pérez finished that season 15-10 with a 3.00 ERA, throwing 222.1 innings of excellent baseball. He was named to the All-Star Game, which just so happened to be the ill-fated 2002 game in Milwaukee that ended in Bud Selig’s desperation tie.
Ultimately, Pérez spent four and a half years in Los Angeles, but never again reached the peaks of his freshman season, ultimately being dealt to the Kansas City Royals as part of a package for Elmer Dessens.
Shortly after word of his passing was confirmed, the Dodgers released a statement, featuring a photo of Pérez uncorking a pitch in front of the Green Monster.
This offseason has been overstuffed with tragedy stemming from this exact generation of ballplayers; from Julio Lugo to Pedro Feliciano, the baseball world has lost far too many Latino standouts far too young in recent months.
Pérez should remain, to Dodgers fans, his 2002 vintage eternally.