Former Twins lefthander David West, a member of the 1991 World Series championship team, has died at age 57.
The Phillies, for whom West pitched with from 1993 to ’96, confirmed West’s death Saturday. West had been battling brain cancer.
“Westy was a funny guy,” Cleveland pitching coach Carl Willis, another member of the 1991 Twins, said Saturday. “He was that kind of teammate in the bullpen, he made everybody laugh. Always wanted that to be my job, so I was a little jealous sometimes.
“I’m really sad to hear that. I came back for the reunion last year and he wasn’t here. I was made aware that he was ill. I’m just sad to hear that because we’re losing friends, teammates .”
West was one of five pitchers the Twins acquired on July 31, 1989, from the Mets for Frank Viola, the 1987 World Series MVP and 1988 AL Cy Young Award winner, along with Rick Aguilera, Tim Drummond, Jack Savage and Kevin Tapani. The 6-foot-6 West was perhaps the most highly touted of the five, as the Memphis native had been considered the top pitching prospect in the Mets farm system.
He didn’t turn into a star for the Twins, going 7-9 with a 5.10 ERA in 1990 before suffering a hamstring injury. He then hurt his elbow in 1991 spring training and then strained abdominal muscles just as he was about to return from that injury. He made his 1991 Twins debut on July 4 as a starter, but after making 11 starts that year, the Twins mostly pitched him out of the bullpen in September and October.
He was the winning pitcher for the decisive Game 5 of the American League Championship Series in Toronto, pitching three hitless innings in relief of Tapani while the Twins came back with three runs in the sixth inning and three in the eighth to beat the Blue Jays 8 -5.
That appearance came two days after West pitched 2⅔ scoreless innings after relieving Scott Erickson in Game 3, a game the Twins won 3-2 in 10 innings.
Traded to the Phillies in December 1992 for Mike Hartley, West was part of Philadelphia’s 1993 World Series team that lost to the Blue Jays. After spending 1997 pitching in Japan, his final MLB season was 1998, when he pitched in six games for Boston.
West went 31-38 with a 4.66 ERA in 204 major league games, including 78 starts. He was 15-18 with a 5.33 ERA in 63 regular-season games with the Twins, including 47 starts.
Last May, the Darren Daulton Foundation offered best wishes to West as he was battling brain cancer. Daulton, West’s former catcher with Philadelphia, died from brain cancer in 2017. West’s death comes less than four months after Jeff Innis, his former Mets teammate, also died from cancer.
Staff writer Megan Ryan contributed to this report.