Gathright with the Kansas City Royals
|Born: April 27, 1981|
|June 25, 2004, for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 28, 2011, for the Boston Red Sox|
Joey Renard Gathright (born April 27, 1981) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kansas City Royals, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. He was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Gathright attended Bonnabel High School in Kenner, Louisiana, where he played baseball & Football as a junior and boxed. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 32nd round of the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft, and signed in August after playing that summer in a Louisiana Sugar Cane League in Sorrento, Louisiana.
He made his major league debut with the Devil Rays on June 25, 2004.
Gathright was arguably one of the fastest players in major league baseball when he made his major league debut, and led all major league outfielders in range factor (3.06) in 2006. He does not hit for power (with only one home run in his MLB career). From 2006 to 2009, he had the lowest slugging average of players with at least 1000 plate appearances at .298. He has a .263 lifetime batting average going into the 2009 season.
Gathright was clocked at 6.1 seconds in the 60-yard dash. While in high school, he jumped over his coach's car. That jumping ability proved useful on the field, as in a 2008 spring training game Gathright jumped over Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who was trying to tag him out en route to first base.
In 2005, he hit .276 in 76 games, and drew 10 walks.
On June 20, 2006, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals, along with infielder Fernando Cortez, for left-handed pitcher J. P. Howell. In the 2006 season, he batted .238 with a .321 on-base percentage, and a .292 slugging percentage. He hit his first, and to date only, home run on September 16, 2006 against Joel Piñeiro of the Seattle Mariners.
In 2007, Gathright broke up Bobby Jenks's major league record-tying streak of 41 consecutive batters retired. Gathright, who would have been the record 42nd batter, was able to get a hit.
While playing center field, his range factor per nine innings was below average in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In 2008 Gathright saw his range factor fall to 2.53, below all but one center field starter in the league. He also hit .254 with a .311 on-base percentage, and only a .272 slugging percentage--below that of all starting outfielders in the major leagues.
Gathright, while with the Royals, had a tendency to attempt to bunt for base hits in order to use his superior speed to reach base. However, he proved to be an inconsistent bunter, and thus his on-base percentage and batting average suffered.
On December 16, 2008, three days after being non-tendered by the Royals, Gathright signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. and made his debut April 6 against the Houston Astros. In 20 games for the Cubs, he hit .214.
On May 8, 2009, after clearing waivers and being sent outright to the minors, the Cubs traded Gathright to the Baltimore Orioles for Ryan Freel. The Orioles sent him to the AAA Norfolk Tides, where he hit .329 in 80 games.
On August 29, 2009, the Boston Red Sox acquired Gathright in exchange for either a player to be named later or cash considerations. He appeared in 17 regular season games, primarily as a pinch runner. He was on the post-season roster, where he made one appearance without an at-bat.
On March 30, 2010, he signed a minor league contract to return to the Orioles. He was released on July 22, 2010 after 61 games with Norfolk, where he hit only .185
On April 13, 2011, Gathright signed with the Shreveport-Bossier Captains of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. He was released on June 7, 2011 after hitting .190 in 21 games.
His performance got him another chance in the Majors and on August 31, 2011, he returned to the Red Sox. He appeared in 7 late season games with the Red Sox, as either a defensive replacement or pinch runner.
On May 24, the Cincinnati Reds purchased Gathright's contract from the Bridgeport club. He reported to the Louisville Bats, Cincinnati's AAA minor league affiliate. He was released on July 14 after hitting .299 in 40 games.
On July 2, 2013, Joey Gathright signed with the Kansas City T-Bones in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.