SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Closing is one of the most intense jobs in baseball. The high-pressure gig calls on one player to shut down an offense’s final chance at turning around a deficit. It was Enter Sandman for Mariano Rivera. The ringing of Hell’s Bells for Trevor Hoffman. It’s the ninth inning.
But for Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed, it’s just another inning.
“The first inning is just as important as the ninth inning,” Reed said. “It’s all the same.”
It’s been a bumpy start to the year for Reed, who hasn’t pitched due to shoulder soreness. But the closer isn’t concerned as his spring debut approaches Wednesday.
“It hasn’t gone the way I wanted it to go,” he said. “But I think everything is feeling well. I wouldn’t say I’m behind anybody, I’d say I’m right there where I need to be. I don’t think I’m behind at all.”
Reed formerly closed for the Chicago White Sox before a trade sent him to Arizona prior to the 2014 season. Since his arrival in the D-backs’ camp, the 26-year-old has won the support of his teammates in the bullpen. Veteran relief pitcher Brad Ziegler, who has 33 career saves, is confident in the young closer.
“I love having him as a closer,” Ziegler said. “He’s very intense, he’s very focused. He knows what he needs to do to succeed. He doesn’t try to do too much, he just does what he knows he’s capable of, and that’s beyond good enough.”
What’s the trick to coming in to lock down the ninth? Reed doesn’t have any rituals outside of stretching and warming up.
“I do the same thing every day,” Reed said. “I always start stretching in the eighth. You never know — I don’t ever want to be caught off guard, so I do the same thing whether we’re winning or losing. I wouldn’t say I do anything crazy or weird, I just do enough that you get loose and ready to go.”
Reed has already eclipsed the 100-save mark in his career, an impressive feat given he’s only been in the majors three full seasons. However, in his first sea-son with the D-backs, he had a 4.25 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, both of which were drastically higher than his totals from 2013.
He’s not looking back. Just like he doesn’t look ahead. The ninth inning is just another inning. Walk-up song? Forget Enter Sandman and Hell’s Bells. Reed doesn’t place much emphasis on it.
“Honestly, 90 percent of the time I don’t even notice the song going on,” he said. “The fans probably enjoy it more than I do.”
Trey Lanthier is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between Arizona Sports 98.7 and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.