Lefthander Kennedy collapses, dies at 28

  • Article by: ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Updated: November 23, 2007 - 7:27 PM

Joe Kennedy, a journeyman lefthander who pitched for three major league teams in 2007, died at his in-laws' home Friday in suburban Tampa, Fla. He was 28.

After going to bed early, Kennedy woke up at about 1:15 a.m. Friday and collapsed as he was leaving a bedroom at the home of his wife's parents, Hillsborough County sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue took Kennedy to Brandon Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, she said.

"We were terribly shocked," Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey told the Associated Press. "From what we understand he was in Brandon ... to be the best man at a wedding today."

Godfrey didn't have particulars on the cause of death.

"Obviously, when a 28-year-old man dies, ball player or not, it's a terrible, terrible thing," he said.

Kennedy spent seven years in the majors, playing last season with Oakland, Arizona and Toronto. He also spent time with Tampa Bay and Colorado and had a 43-61 career record with a 4.79 ERA in 222 appearances.

"He was such a focused kid from the time we took him in the draft," said Florida Marlins Vice President Dan Jennings, who was the scouting director for Tampa Bay when the Rays selected Kennedy in the 1998 draft. "He was on a mission to become a major league pitcher."

Kennedy made his major league debut in June 2001 and made his last appearance in relief on Sept. 29 in a 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

Kennedy started 2007 with Oakland as a starter but was moved to the bullpen after going 3-9 with a 4.37 ERA. He appeared in 27 games, including 16 starts, before being placed on waivers.

Claimed by Arizona in August, he was released that month after only three appearances. The Blue Jays signed him Aug. 29.

Kennedy and his family still lived in the Denver area and had just bought a new house, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, one of Kennedy's closest friends, told the Denver Post.

"It's a sad day and a sad situation," Helton said. "He's leaving a wife and a little boy behind."

Cordero to Reds

Free-agent closer Francisco Cordero has reportedly reached a preliminary agreement on a four-year, $46 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds. The signing was first reported on Fox Sports' website.

Cordero was second in the National League with 44 saves last season for Milwaukee and made the NL All-Star team.

Reds GM Wayne Krivsky didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Friday night. David Weathers led the team with 33 saves last season, but he will be 39 next year.

Cordero, speaking Friday on a sports radio program in the Dominican Republic, hinted he had received a lucrative offer from Cincinnati. "I would have liked to stay in Milwaukee, but it's not up to me," he said.

Brewers GM Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he offered Cordero a four-year, $42 million deal with an option for a fifth year. "As important as he was to us, we just felt [the bidding] was getting to be too much," Melvin said.

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