Reed carries lessons learned at San Diego State to big league success

Reed carries lessons learned at San Diego State to big league success
April 26, 2013, 6:15 pm
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Vinnie Duber

Friday night, San Diego State gave away Addison Reed jersey shirts at their game against Fresno State to honor the former Aztec pitcher. It’s a bit ironic, though, considering Reed has given away practically nothing so far this season as the White Sox closer.

“It’s awesome. They didn’t have to do that,” Reed said. “It’s pretty cool just to know that they’re still thinking of me and that I made a little bit of an impact for them to want to do that. It’s cool, and hopefully the fans like it.”

Reed said they showed him the shirt before Spring Training started and sent him a few to keep. But it isn’t the first thing he’s kept from San Diego State. Reed said the mental side of his game grew when he played for the Aztecs, and it’s something he said has stuck with him ever since.

“Just the mindset,” he said. “If anything, the coaches there instilled in me that even if you’re not the most talented, you’ve got to have the mindset to go out there. If you’re a hitter, you need to go hit any pitch that’s thrown at the plate. If you’re a pitcher, you can get any batter that’s up there out. If anything, I’d say the mental makeup and the mindset was the thing that stuck with me and the thing that they instilled in everybody from day one.

“I think it’s just part of me now. It’s not something that I consciously think of, ‘Oh, I have to have this mindset, think this way.’ It’s kind of something that just comes natural now, and I think that’s from my time at San Diego State and spending it there with those coaches.”

Getting any batter that walks to the plate out has been an Addison Reed specialty so far this season, as he rates as one of the American League’s best closers. Coming into Friday night’s action, only four Major League pitchers had racked up more saves than Reed’s seven. In 10 innings pitched in 2013, he’s surrendered just one run, five hits and three walks. Meanwhile, he’s struck out 10 and retired 30 of the 38 hitters he’s faced. He’s even picked up a win in extra innings.

Reed said that the difference this season lies in execution.

“I’m just getting my off-speed pitches over for strikes,” he said. “I know last year that was kind of an issue for me. I had the off-speed pitches, but they were off and on. They were never consistent. I could never consistently throw them for strikes. This year, all of it -- changeup, slider -- it feels good, and I feel I could throw those in any count, any situation. I think that’s the biggest thing for me is just being able to throw the off-speed pitches for strikes when I need to.”

The 24-year-old righty is the closer for one of baseball’s best bullpens. The Sox relief corps entered Friday with a 2.04 ERA, the best in the AL and third-best in the Majors, trailing only Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

That has to make the jobs of manager Robin Ventura and the rest of the Sox decision-makers much easier.

“That’s what I want. I want them to have complete confidence in me and throw me out there whenever they can,” Reed said. “But not only with me, I think they have confidence in everybody in the bullpen. Any situation that comes up, there’s not a guy they’re hesitant to throw in there. They have full confidence in us, they’re 100 percent behind us. That’s a good thing. We’re never out there not wanting to pitch. We’re out there every day, and we want to pitch. So whenever the phone rings and our number’s called, we’re ready.”

Keppinger, Wise day-to-day

A pair of Sox hitters are nursing nagging injuries, and it forced them both out of the lineup for Friday’s game against the Rays.

Jeff Keppinger, who’s shifted to the role of everyday second baseman with Gordon Beckham on the shelf for several weeks, is battling back spasms that manager Robin Ventura said flared up Thursday night. Dewayne Wise, who was in the starting lineup Friday, was scratched during batting practice with a stiff neck.

Both players are classified as day-to-day.

The injury comes at a tough time for Keppinger, who was just beginning to show signs of breaking out of an early season batting drought. After hitting .153 over his first 17 games, Keppinger picked up two hits in each of his last three, going 6-for-12 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored in that span.

Tyler Greene got the start at second base Friday, replacing Keppinger, while Jordan Danks got his third start of the year in centerfield Friday filling in for Wise.

In other Sox injury news, left-handed reliever Leyson Septimo, who’s been recovering from a left shoulder strain and has been on the disabled list since late March, started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte, according to the Sox affiliate’s Twitter account.

Jared Mitchell heads to DL with Birmingham

The road to the Major Leagues just keeps getting tougher for Jared Mitchell.

Mitchell, the Sox’s first-round draft pick back in 2009, was placed on the disabled list Friday with a strained right oblique.

Mitchell is playing with Double-A Birmingham, where he was sent after 14 underwhelming games to start the season with Triple-A Charlotte. He split time with the two Sox affiliates last season, two years removed from an ankle injury that caused him to miss the entire 2010 campaign.

In those 14 games with Charlotte to open the year, Mitchell hit just .132. In five games with Birmingham, he was 3-for-14 with six walks.