C. J. Nitkowski
|C. J. Nitkowski|
March 9, 1973 |
Suffern, New York
|June 3, 1995 for the Cincinnati Reds|
Last MLB appearance
|June 7, 2005 for the Washington Nationals|
|Earned run average||5.37|
Christopher John "C. J." Nitkowski (born March 9, 1973) is a left-handed former professional baseball pitcher. A first-round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds in 1994, he debuted for the Reds in 1995, and played in MLB for the Reds, Mets, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, and Washington Nationals. He has also played in Nippon Professional Baseball for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and in Korean Baseball Organization for the SK Wyverns, Doosan Bears, and Nexen Heroes.
Nitkowski grew up in Suffern, New York and attended Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, New Jersey, graduating in 1991. Not drafted out of high school, he attended Florida Atlantic University for one year before transferring to St. John's University.
The Cincinnati Reds made him the ninth overall pick in the 1994 Major League Baseball Draft. He made his Major League Baseball debut on June 3, 1995, with the Reds. The Reds traded Nitkowski and a player to be named later (later selected to be Mark Lewis) and minor leaguer Dave Tuttle to the Detroit Tigers for David Wells on July 31, 1995. After the 1996 season, the Tigers traded Nitkowski with Brad Ausmus, José Lima, Trever Miller and Daryle Ward to the Houston Astros for Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones, Orlando Miller and cash. After the 1998 season, the Astros traded Nitkowski with Ausmus back to the Tigers for Paul Bako, Dean Crow, Brian Powell, and minor leaguers Carlos Villalobos and Mark Persails. Late in the 2001 season, the Tigers traded Nitkowski to the New York Mets for a player to be named later, later identified as minor leaguer Kyle Kessel.
Nitkowski signed with the Texas Rangers, and played for them in 2002 and 2003. He split the 2004 season between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees. He pitched for the Washington Nationals in 2005.
In the 2006 season, he played exclusively in Triple-A with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. After the year, Nitkowski accepted a one-year contract tender with Nippon Professional Baseball's Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. He played two seasons for the Hawks, but did not return to the team in 2009. Nitkowski began the 2009 season with the SK Wyverns in South Korea, but was granted his release by the team on June 20. On June 28, 2009, the Doosan Bears in South Korea claimed him off waivers. He was released at the end of the season due to concerns over a shoulder injury he suffered in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs.
After retiring from baseball in April 2013, Nitkowski began a career in media as a writer, studio host, radio host and color analyst. As a writer he has had articles published for Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, SB Nation, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN.com, and MLB.com. He currently writes exclusively for Fox Sports MLB microsite, JustABitOutside.com.
Since 2013, he has co-hosted "Eye on Baseball" an all baseball national radio show for CBS Sports Radio. The two hour Saturday show airs from 10AM-12PM EST. His co-hosts on the show have been Damon Bruce (2013), Brandon Tierney (2013) and Adam "The Bull" Gerstenhaber (2014). Nitkowski is also a fill-in host for MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. He also worked for CBS Sports Network where he served as a color analyst on NCAA baseball games. In 2013 Nitkowski filled in for Suzyn Waldman and worked alongside John Sterling on three New York Yankees radio broadcasts for 880 CBS Radio. In 2013 Nitkowski was also a studio analyst for MLB.com. In 2014 Nitkowski called four New York Mets games on radio alongside Josh Lewin and Howie Rose for WOR 710.
Nitkowski is a studio analyst for Fox Sports 1 where he works on FS1's first baseball highlight show "MLB Whip Around" which debuted on March 31st, 2013 as well as Fox's Saturday MLB pre and post game coverage. Other analysts he has worked with at FS1 include former MLB players Frank Thomas, Gabe Kapler, Mark Sweeney and Eric Karros.  Nitkowski also calls MLB games for FS1 and has worked with play-by-play men Thom Brennamen, Kenny Albert, Len Kasper, Rich Waltz and Justin Kutcher.
On January 30, 2009, it was revealed that Nitkowski was interviewed by the FBI as part of the its investigation into the perjury case against Roger Clemens, with whom he worked out sporadically in the off-seasons from 2001–2006, while also being trained by Brian McNamee, Clemens' principal accuser. Nitkowski, in a statement to the Associated Press (an organization he also occasionally contributes to as a writer) said, "I have never seen Roger or Andy take any illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never talked to either of them about PEDs, nor do I have any firsthand knowledge of them taking any PEDs."
Nitkowski was one of the first major leaguers to maintain his own Web site, where he posted ongoing personal diaries about life in the big leagues, as early as 1997. In many ways, his contributions anticipated the phenomenon of blogging, several years before that term became known to the general public.
In May 2012 he was filmed playing the role of former MLB Dutch Leonard for a scene in the motion picture 42, which chronicles Jackie Robinson's life story. Coincidentally, the footage was shot in Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., the ballpark where Nitkowski first broke into professional baseball as a first-round pick of the Reds in 1994.
- Kepner, Tyler. "EXTRA BASES Bound for Big Screen, and Maybe Majors". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- Lewis, Brian. "Amazin's Add Lefty Nitkowski to Pen", Daily News (New York), September 3, 2001. Accessed February 22, 2011.
- Interview on Therion's Player Profile Blog[dead link]
- Post on C. J. Nitkowski's blog announcing his status with the Hawks
- The Associated Press (2014-03-27). "Nitkowski back to Asia". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- "Be Perfect Or Be Gone". CJBaseball.com. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- 5:31 pm (2012-07-13). "Mets sign CJ Nitkowski, will report to AA". Metsblog. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- "C.J. Nitkowski remaking himself as sidearming lefty | MLB.com: News". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- Steve Popper. "Baseball: C.J. Nitkowski's time to head outside the lines - Sports". NorthJersey.com. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- Fox Sports (2014-03-03). "Reynolds & Verducci join Buck for MLB on FOX | FOX Sports on MSN". Msn.foxsports.com. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- "Post on C.J. Nitkowski's blog, "Jesus Christ Was In the Minor Leagues"". Cjbaseball.com. 2002-05-28. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- Nitkowski, C.J. "Getting the Part in "42," a Jackie Robinson Film Starring Harrison Ford". C. J. Nitkowski. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- CJBaseball.com (CJ's own blog)
- Spotstarters.com (Interview with C. J. Nitkowski, 2007)
- Career statistics from Korea Baseball Organization