After defecting from Cuba in 1999, Baez was signed by the Cleveland Indians to a four-year, $14.5 million deal before the 2000 season. With a fastball that could occasionally reach 97 MPH, a good curve, and a changeup that he struggled to locate, Baez wasn't quite ready for the majors until the Indians called him up in May 2001. Although he was originally projected as a starter, Baez found his niche as a right-handed setup man, where he could get away with having only two effective pitches. His 2001 season began with 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, and finished with an outstanding 2.50 ERA in 43 appearances.
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»July 17, 2002: Minnesota's Torii Hunter, angered after he is hit by a pitch, picks up the ball and fires it at Indians pitcher Danys Baez in the fifth inning of an 8–5 Twins win. Hunter's throw hits the pitcher in the leg but he stays in the game. After the game Baez goes into the Twins clubhouse to apologize. Thome, Selby and Broussard homer for the Tribe, while David Ortiz and Dustin Mohr hit 2–run homers. Rick Reed (7–5) wins but has to shoo away a seagull, which walks out to the mound: it's the gull's 3rd straight appearance.