Homegrown Homecoming: Lance Painter

Homegrown Homecoming is a series in which I profile former Rockies players and update you as to what they’re doing now. Previous installments in this series can be found on my old website Rockies Woman.

The Rockies have the distinction of having been the longtime home of the best Canadian baseball player of all time (Larry Walker). But did you know they also gainfully employed one of Britain’s finest for a while too? That would be Lance Painter, the starter-turned-reliever who was never exceptionally good at either.

Painter was taken from the Padres as the Rockies’ 34th pick in the ’92 expansion draft. He hadn’t yet made his major-league debut at the time. That occurred in May 1993, when Painter took the hill in San Diego. He lasted 4 1/3 innings and allowed 6 earned runs on 12 hits. Most of Painter’s ’93 lines would resemble that one, except for one odd outing against the Mets in August when he recorded a complete game and only allowed 1 run.

In September of that year, Painter spent some time in the bullpen, and had success there. He was given another crack at the rotation in 1994 and didn’t do much with it; he only lasted more than 6 innings three times and finished the season with a 6.11 ERA. He finally found something like his stride in 1995, when he was fully converted to a reliever. He was used in all kinds of roles: long relief, middle relief, 1/3 inning here, 3 innings there, occasional closer. His first outing of the season was of the 1 1/3 inning, 6 earned run variety, so it took him a while to pare down his ERA, but it was 4.37 by the end of the season. Painter also started Game 2 of the National League Division Series between the Rockies and Braves in 1995. The Rockies lost that game, but they were able to tie the score after Painter left, so he was not the pitcher of record (that’d be Mike Munoz).

Painter struggled again in 1996, allowing 12 home runs in 50 2/3 innings pitched. He was taken off waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals that offseason. He played his best season with them in 1998, posting a 4-0 record and  an ERA of 3.99. He also played for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Milwaukee Brewers before retiring in 2003.

After his playing career ended, Painter found some success as a coach. He returned to his native Great Britain to coach their national team in 2005. Then he came back to the States to work in the Seattle Mariners organization as a coach for various farm teams. He’s currently the pitching coach for their Jackson Generals, a Double-A team in the Southern League.

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