Reed likes the ‘pen, and D-backs have him written in
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tony Gwynn did not have to look far for a replacement for ace starter Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State in 2010. Addison Reed was the logical choice after two strong seasons in the program, and he handled the job well. The only thing Reed would have liked better was to have stayed in the bullpen.
No one seems wired for relief more than the new Diamondbacks right-hander, who grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and wanted nothing more than to walk in then-Angels closer Troy Percival’s late-inning shoes.
"Just seeing him run out there and how the fans reacted and how pumped up he was," said Reed, 25. "I thought that was a feeling you can’t get anywhere else, and that’s a feeling I like to have. It’s worked out well so far."
Reed had 69 saves with the White Sox after earning the regular closer’s job six weeks into the 2012 season, and his acquisition for third baseman Matt Davidson — who incidentally went to high school a mile away from Reed — added a 95 mph arm to a Diamondbacks’ bullpen. The D-backs have not named a closer, and manager Kirk Gibson said his goal is to get all of his relievers throwing the way they can and have in the past before any decision is made. At the same time, it seems hard to imagine that the D-backs would make the trade without feeling Reed is their man, although he is not about to claim the role.
"My goal every time I go out there is to face three batters and get three batters out," Reed said. "I’m not saying, ‘I’m going to get this many saves or this many strikeouts’; I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can every time I am out. The main goal is, if we are winning, to keep us ahead by the time I get out and come out with the win. Those are my only goals: To help the team however I can."
One of the first text messages Reed received after the Dec. 16 deal was from J.J. Putz, who has entered spring training as the D-backs’ closer each of the last three seasons since being acquired in the winter of 2010. The welcome goes directly to Putz’s character and stands as among the reasons he is considered the leader of the bullpen.
"Maybe 20 minutes after I got traded, he texted me. It was cool," Reed said. "Obviously we talk about things, but not who is going to be throwing the eighth, who is going to be throwing the ninth. Ultimately, that’s not up to us. We are going to throw whenever they tell us to throw.
"If they tell me to throw the second inning, I’m going to throw the second inning. If they tell me to throw the ninth inning, I’ll throw the ninth inning. Obviously everybody knows I want to close. That’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m here, and whatever they have me do is what I’ll do and I’ll be happy to do. As long as I am out there throwing, I’ll be a happy guy."
Reed was an immediate hit at San Diego State. He opened his freshman season with 12 scoreless innings and concluded it with six more, all out of the bullpen. He led NCAA Division I with 20 saves in 2009, when he had an 0.65 ERA and struck out 38 while walking only seven (two intentionally) in 27 1/3 innings. He was the Mountain West relief pitcher of the year and earned an invitation to the USA Baseball national team trials. Reed and Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, gave Gwynn a solid 1-2 punch.
When Gwynn broached the subject of replacing Strasburg in the rotation, Reed was hesitant at first, but he found it beneficial. The numbers remained good — he was 8-2 with a 2.50 ERA, striking out 90 in 79 1/3 innings — and as a side benefit was able to expand his repertoire, adding a changeup to his fastball-slider stuff.
"When was closing, I threw about 80, 85 percent fastballs," Reed said "When I started, I had to throw more pitches. If anything, I think it helped make me better in the role I have right now. I’m grateful for that opportunity. I do have a changeup, and I’d say my rookie year I’d rarely use it, maybe a handful of times. Last year I used it a little more, and that’s one of the pitches I am always going to continue to work on and try and get better and comfortable with. And so far, so good."
Reed, the White Sox’s third-round pick in 2010, made two starts at Great Falls of the rookie Pioneer League but quickly was returned to the bullpen after a talk with team officials.
"Things were just not going as well as I knew they could, and kind of sat down and talked to them and thought that moving forward the best thing to do was come out of bullpen," Reed said.
"That’s the only starts I’ve had in professional baseball, and hopefully that’s the only starts I’ll ever have in professional baseball. That’s fine with me. Hopefully I stay in the situation I am in."