You may have been asked at some point in your life “A penny for your thoughts?” Well, instead of that we’re going to ask whether you recall a Nickle for the 2002 Philadelphia Phillies?
The ‘Phillies 50’ series pitching entry for that version of the ball club focuses on right-hander Doug Nickle. This would be the last of three seasons that he would pitch for the Phillies and in his Major League Baseball career.
Nickle was originally chosen by what was then known as the “Anaheim” Angels in the 13th round of the 1997 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of California at Berkeley.
On August 28, 1998 the Phillies turned the page on Gregg Jefferies, swapping him to the Halos in exchange for a player to be named later. On September 9, that player would become Nickle.
After pitching well with High-A Clearwater in 1999 and Double-A Reading in 2000, the Phillies gave him a first shot at big-league life when rosters expanded in September. He made his debut on September 18 at The Vet, facing two batters in the top of the 9th inning during a 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Nickle would make four appearances that September and then two more in September of 2001 for the Phillies. For the 2002 squad, Nickle finally got the call in the middle of a season. With their bullpen hit by injuries, the Phillies brought him up from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre in late June.
In a little more than a week with the team, Nickle would make four appearances before being sent back to Triple-A. Then, as the trade deadline approached, Nickle was included in the deal that sent Scott Rolen to the Saint Louis Cardinals. In exchange, the Phillies received infielder Placido Polanco, veteran reliever Mike Timlin, and young southpaw Bud Smith.
Nickle’s stay in the Saint Louis system wasn’t long. At the end of August he was placed on waivers and snatched up by the San Diego Padres. When rosters expanded in September, Nickle was brought up from the minors by the Padres and made 10 appearances out of their bullpen that month. In fact, his first appearance for San Diego on September 1, 2002 would result in his only career MLB decision, a win over the Colorado Rockies at Qualcomm Stadium.
Placed on waivers as the season came to a close, Nickle was immediately grabbed by the New York Mets. However, in mid-December he was granted free agency. A few weeks later he signed back with the Angels, his original organization.
On July 30, 2003 after pitching in the minors all year, Nickle was once again included as part of a multi-player trade. This time the Angels dealt him as part of a trade that sent veteran southpaw Scott Schoeneweis to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Gary Glover and two other young arms.
Instead of another big-league opportunity, this time Nickle was released when the calendar turned to September. In December 2003 he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent and would pitch the 2004 campaign with their Triple-A farm club in Las Vegas, but never received a promotion and retired following that season at age 29.