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Perrotto: Ryan John Tellez Hopes to Bring Rowdiness to Pirates Lineup

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Rowdy Tellez, Pittsburgh Pirates

The new Pittsburgh Pirates’ first baseman has one of the best names in baseball.

Rowdy Tellez.

So, how did Ryan John Tellez become Rowdy Tellez? Well, because you’ve come to expect hard-hitting baseball journalism in this space, I’ll let Tellez tell the story.

“I got my name before I was born,” Tellez said. “My grandma gave it to me when I was in my mom’s stomach and didn’t know if I was a boy or a girl. Didn’t want to know so they just called me ‘Baby Rowdy’ and it stuck.”

So, there you have it.

The Pirates hope Tellez can bring some rowdiness to their lineup next season after signing him to a one-year, $3.2-million contract last week as a free agent. He can make an additional $800,000 through performance bonuses.

The Pirates would love to get the 2022 version of Tellez, who hit 35 home runs for the Milwaukee Brewers. However, they were able to sign Tellez at a potential bargain rate because he went deep just 13 times this year during an injury-marred season as the Brewers won the National League Central.

Getting back to that 2022 level is also Tellez’s hope after being hindered by forearm and thumb injuries last season.

“I know I’ll be playing a lot of first base, trying to drive in as many runs as I can,” Tellez said. “I’ll be trying to have an impact with the bat. Obviously, that’s my calling card. Just be healthy, be out there every day, be a veteran presence, be a guy these young guys can lean on and ask questions to. Be the same guy day in and day out. Just be a Pirate, have a good year and be who they need me to be.”

The 6-foot-4, 270-pound bearded Tellez looks the part of a slugger. The 28-year-old has hit .233/.304/.446 with 92 home runs in six seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays (2018-21) and Milwaukee Brewers (2021-23).

Tellez is confident he still has many good years ahead and said he is motivated to show last season was an aberration.

“In 2022, I had a really good year, kind of turned it around, showed what I could do, always believed in myself,” Tellez said. “I think the first two months of the season in 2023 prior to dealing with injuries and that kind of stuff, I just had a really good start to the season and I think that once that happened and then trying to deal with the injuries and not saying anything and just being that guy that goes out every day whether it’s right or wrong, just kind of rolling through it really affected me.

“Once we got to the offseason, it was a huge focus on getting healthy. Making sure everything is right, getting cleared by the doctors and I feel great. I’m really happy with where I’m at, been working at it a lot, been doing Pilates, trying to just lean out. I’m getting older man I can’t be throwing around all this weight like the young dudes. Just trying to do everything I can to stay healthy and be in the best shape so I can go out there and play 162 if they need me to.”

One of Tellez’s few highlights from 2023 was pitching a scoreless ninth inning of a 16-1 victory over the Miami Marlins on Sept. 22. Considering the Pirates could use pitching help, could Tellez become the Pittsburgh version of Shohei Ohtani?

“We didn’t discuss that, but I do have the best ERA in baseball, so that can be something we can negotiate,” Tellez said with a laugh.

That would certainly make Ryan John Tellez a legend.

Uh, check that. Rowdy Tellez.

John Perrotto is a columnist for Pittsburgh Baseball Now and has covered the Pittsburgh Pirates and MLB since 1988.

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