Thornton, Flowers on Reed
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Addison Reed is not your typical kind of pitcher, not your run-of-the-mill human being.
“He’s probably not a guy you take to meet your parents or anything like that,” says catcher Tyler Flowers.
Maybe Flowers just witnessed Reed dashing out of the White Sox clubhouse to surprise his teammates with the odd pair of sunglasses he just picked up somewhere. They made him look like a fool. That was precisely the point.
“People tell me I’m a little out there now and then,” Reed says. “I don’t try to be. That’s just how I come across, I guess.”
Some people walk through life with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Not Reed. He floats.
That is, until game time.
That’s when the fire burns somewhere deep inside him. Where it is when he’s not playing, leave that for a psychologist to discover. But when his name is called to protect a lead, Reed is about as stern and steady as they come.
“I take [pitching] seriously, but leading up to that in the clubhouse, at home, I just be myself," he said. “I don’t like to be boring.”
Most 24-year-olds who can throw 94 mph dream about becoming a starter in the major leagues. Not Reed. He’s always had his mind on being a closer.
“That’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do,” he says.
And now after taking over that role for the White Sox last season, here’s another surprise from Reed: Going into every season, he doesn’t want to believe he’s the closer. Not now. Not ever.
“I don’t know if I ever want that to get in my head. Then I think I might get a little bit too comfortable and start taking things a little easy,” he says. “If I’m lucky enough to play 15-20 years, I’m going to keep that same mindset every single year. If I’m on the same team for 10 years and I’m the closer each year, that 11th year, I’m going to go in there and act like I still have to fight for that position because then I’m going to go out there every time and fight for it and I’m not going to let up.”
Some people are just born to pitch the 9th inning. It takes a certain mentality and personality. It’s not a place for storm clouds and big thinkers. Reed is about as carefree as a summer breeze.
Most teams would never even think about putting a rookie in that pressure-packed job. But after manager Robin Ventura went to Reed time and time again last April and May, the White Sox soon realized that he could handle it.
“I think after the first couple weeks last year when he was the closer, he wasn’t a rookie anymore,” Flowers says. “Everyone kind of looked at him differently and he carried himself differently. I think to be successful in this game, you’ve got to have that edge about you. Especially being a closer.”
Reed once lost that edge -- last July at Fenway Park. He very much remembers that night. He’ll likely never forget it. Neither will Cody Ross.
With the White Sox nursing a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth, Reed entered the game with two men on to face Ross, who had hit three-run homers in consecutive innings the day before. On a 1-1 pitch, the Red Sox outfielder belted another three-run homer over the Green Monster in left to win the game.
“That was the first walk-off I had ever given up,” Reed says. “I missed the spot. It was supposed to be a fastball away and it kind of drifted over the plate. He hit it. I know it’s a high wall, but it’s a short fence that way. To be honest with you, when he hit it, I thought it was going foul. Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw him do the bat flip and knew that he got it.”
If Reed ever sees Ross, what will he say to him?
“I’m not throwing you that pitch again,” he said.
The end of last season was pure agony for the White Sox, who dropped 11 of the last 15 games. The Tigers won the division by three games.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, youngsters like Reed got to feel the heat of a pennant race. Maybe the results weren’t there, and White Sox fans are still feeling the emotional scars of those wretched defeats, but the experience of those games are embedded in players' minds.
Reed saw it. He felt it. And now he and the Sox are out to change it this season.
“We were in a good position up until those last two weeks,” Reed says. “Even not making the playoffs and getting that close was unbelievable, so I can’t imagine what that would be like to make the playoffs and make a run in the playoffs and get to the World Series. Hopefully, we do that this year.”