His work done, Ryan Reid steps off the pitcher’s mound and strides to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ dugout. He feels good. He got three outs and the other team couldn’t score a run.
Reid finds his seat on the bench, his ears tuned into the chatter near the end of another spring training game. He doesn’t expect the verbal pat on the back. Once in a while it happens.
“I’ll hear an atta-boy. That’s about it. I did my job.”
He is no longer the high school kid from Deering High or the college boy who pitched so well at James Madison. He turns 28 next month and after seven years in the Tampa Bay minor league organization, he’s still trying to find work in a major league bullpen.
Pittsburgh signed Reid to a minor league contract last November, offering him an opportunity to make its 40-man roster, which doesn’t guarantee a role with the Pirates.
No promises and no real encouragment.
“It’s a business,” said Reid, calling from Florida early Tuesday night. “I’ve learned that. I work to give them a good view of Ryan Reid on the mound to show them who I am. I’m not going to throw 98 (mph) and strike everybody out.
“But I will get outs.”
He’s done it this spring, usually working just an inning in each of his seven appearances. He’s allowed only six runners in eight innings. He has struck out six and walked just one batter, giving up five hits. He’s allowed one run. Opponents are hitting .185 against him.
Tuesday, he still had no idea if he’ll leave spring training in Bradenton, Fla., for the trip north to Pittsburgh. “We should have a conversation some other time in the next 48 hours because I really don’t know what will happen. It really is all about those five words: control what you can control.
“I can’t be the general manager. I can’t be the manager. I’m a pitcher. That’s what I do. They make the decisions.”
He talked about his competition for those last few few positions in the bullpen. Kids, he called some of them, separating himself out. “It sounds funny to call myself a veteran but in a way I am.”
He pitched in 272 games in the Tampa Bay organization, reaching Triple-A last season.
He had 79 strikeouts in 781/3 innings and walked 28 for a decent ratio.
No, he has yet to toe a major league rubber but he’s no longer the bright-eyed kid.
He’s a veteran of the pro game who’s poured everything he has into another audition and must now wait for a decision.
“My girlfriend is here,” he said. “My dog, too. I’ll be fine”
Reid returned to Venezuela for a second season of winter baseball.
It’s where he worked on his two-seam fastball. Its sink, combined with his slider, has made him a tougher pitcher. Venezuela also made him a tougher person.
“They’re passionate about their baseball, I’ll say that,” he said. “I never felt in danger, but fans were always running onto the field after games. They made a lot of noise.”
He is one of the four Maine men playing at the upper levels of baseball.
His Deering High teammate, Ryan Flaherty, is fighting to stay with the Baltimore Orioles. Charlie Furbush of South Portland has a spot in the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen.
Mark Rogers, who was on the mound for Mt. Ararat in that memorable 2004 matchup with Reid and Deering for the Maine high school championship before a capacity crowd at Hadlock Field in Portland, has had another setback.
The first-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers out of high school in 2004 was put on the disabled list Tuesday with “right shoulder instability.”
“I see (Flaherty) and I text him a lot,” said Reid. “Our spring training camps are about 20, 30 minutes apart. But it’s different now. It’s like he plays for Portland and I play for Deering. We’re rivals.”
Flaherty hit a home run off Reid last spring.
“It was in the ninth inning,” said Reid. “I remember the pitch.”
If and when their paths cross again on a baseball field, Reid will make sure Flaherty never sees that pitch again.
Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at [email protected]