The Los Angeles Dodgers recently announced their first big signing of the offseason, inking former Boston Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly to a three-year contract that includes a fourth-year option and plenty of incentives.
The signing was met with mixed emotions among Dodgers fans as Kelly is a good addition to a bullpen that struggled in the World Series, but he has largely been disliked in Los Angeles since 2013.
Pitching as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason that year, Kelly got the start against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
Kelly hit perhaps the hottest hitter on the planet at the time, Hanley Ramirez, in the ribs in the first inning of that game. Ramirez broke his ribs and was nowhere close to being the same player the rest of the series, and the Cardinals went on to win and advance to the Fall Classic.
Speaking to the media in Los Angeles for the first time since signing with the Dodgers, Kelly said he hopes fans will forgive him for the incident when the team wins the World Series in 2019, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I’ve been constantly reminded of that,” Kelly said. “It was a fastball that got away, and it didn’t look good. He was the best player in the playoffs at that time. But when we became teammates [in Boston], we had a big man hug and there were no hard feelings. I hope Dodgers fans are able to forgive me when we win the World Series this year.”
Kelly dominated the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series to the tune of six shutout innings with 10 strikeouts, appearing in all five of the games.
That is the sort of production that will help the fans be more welcome to him joining the team as they are still in search of their first World Series championship since 1988. If Ramirez himself can forgive Kelly, then the fans should be open to it as well.