Meet the D-backs’ bullpen catcher, Mark Reed
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mark Reed’s first road trip in the 2012 MLB season was to Chicago and Wrigley Field.
It was a reunion for Reed, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of the 2004 MLB Draft.
However, Reed was wearing an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform as the new bullpen catcher.
“It kind of all came back together,” Reed said. “I was drafted by the Cubs and then I came up to do this job in the big leagues and was back in Wrigley Field for the first time in a big league uniform.”
Reed, entering his fourth year as the bullpen catcher, has a busy daily routine.
“I get to the field probably around 1 or 1:30 (for a night game). I rub up the baseballs for the bullpen. I get ready for the sides (throwing session). The sides usually are the starting pitcher that throws a bullpen between his starts and that is usually around 3, which is when the relievers go out and do their conditioning and their long toss. I either long toss with one of the starting pitchers or a bullpen guy.”
Reed is also responsible for warming up the starting pitcher and long tosses with him before the game. During the game, Reed is in the bullpen ready for the phone to ring when a pitcher is needed to warm up.
Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler have been with Reed since 2012 and acknowledge his time spent playing baseball has helped.
“He knows everybody well enough that if something is not quite sharp or something like that, you can tell he is almost like having an extra coach down there as well,” Collmenter said. “As much experience that he has now, especially with some of the guys that have been down there for awhile, he does his homework and is just another set of eyes to help us with whatever we need in order to get ready to go into the game.”
Ziegler said Reed has a feel for the game. “He understands when we need to hurry and get ready and when we can take our time a little bit and make sure that we have everything we need down there.”
Catcher has always been the position of choice for Reed and his brothers since they played Little League in La Verne, CA.
“They (his brothers) were playing Little League and I was six or seven years old when I got my first set of gear,” Reed said. “I love being back there. I love being involved in everything and kind of running the game. I caught all through Little League into high school. I didn’t really know any other position besides catcher.”
Reed’s older brother Jeremy was a standout player at Long Beach State and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 2002 Draft. While Jeremy was quickly moving through the White Sox minor league system, Mark was becoming a star at Bonita High School. Mark, like his brother, had an opportunity to play baseball at Long Beach State but instead signed with the Cubs.
“I was highly-recruited out of high school so I was senior in high school in 2004 and Jeremy had made his debut later that year, the same year I got drafted by the Cubs. It was a pretty cool for all of us, the family.”
Reed spent seven years in the minors (six with the Cubs and one with the D-backs) and had a .238 batting average with 15 home runs and 182 RBI in 573 games.
Early on in the 2012 season, Reed received a call from then D-backs Minor League Director Mike Bell asking him if he would be interested in becoming the bullpen catcher.
“At that time, I was playing in Triple-A and our guy (D-backs bullpen catcher) had an injury. Mike called me and asked me if I would be interested in going up to the big leagues to do this and I said, yeah, definitely. He said you don’t have to rush into this, call your family you don’t have to make a decision right now.”
Reed talked with his family and his brother and saw this opportunity as a way of making it to the big leagues, making his decision easy. “It all kind of came together pretty quickly,” said Reed.
Now he’s right where he wants to be — thankful for one of baseball’s most thankless jobs.