By the age of 23, Jorge Cantu had already garnered MVP votes.
By 27, he had driven in 95 or more runs three times.
Now, at 30, he's on a minor-league contract, struggling to make the Angels' Opening Day roster as a reserve infielder. The last few years have been a zig-zag ride for a guy who once was among the more-feared right-handed hitters in the American League. He has come to accept a diminished role.
"Obviously, I'm not going to start. We all know that, because these guys have their nine already," Cantu said. "But I took a chance to come here, because this is such a power team.
"I feel like I still have a lot of skill to contribute."
Since those promising early days in Tampa Bay, Cantu has become a journeyman whose career has advanced in fits and starts. The Angels are his fifth team since 2007. They're hoping he can do what he did in 2008 -- sign a minor league deal, but make a major league impact. He batted .277 with 29 home runs and 95 RBIs for the Florida Marlins that year, then drove in 100 runs the following season.
Since 2009, he has batted .222. He was released by the San Diego Padres last June and finished the season at Triple-A for the Colorado Rockies.
"Jorge’s a really interesting, because this guy was an RBI machine," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "With guys in scoring position, he was a really, really tough hitter and not that long ago. We’re not going back 10 years."