Reed in need of a second chance

Save your breath with Michael Reed. No one needs to tell the 26-year-old outfielder that he squandered a golden opportunity with the San Francisco Giants. Reed may well be the first player in major-league history to start the first two games of a season and then be told to get lost four days later.

The Giants thought enough of Reed to start him on opening day in San Diego five days after acquiring him in a trade with the Minnesota Twins. Reed was hitting .278 with a home run and four RBI in eight Grapefruit League games when the Twins sent him on his way to the city by the bay.

Reed actually joined the Giants in Arizona. After going 0-for-4 in three Cactus League games, he was just informed just hours before the opener on March 28 that he would start. The news was as much a surprise to Reed as it was to any Giants fan trying to figure out who he was and why he was in right field.

His position was about all that went right for Reed, who went 0-for-2 with a strikeout before being replaced by Yangervis Solarte, Manager Bruce Bochy juggled his batting order for the second game and elevated Reed from seventh to leadoff. Reed responded with three strikeouts in as many at-bats – baseball’s version of a hat trick.

That was the beginning of the end. Reed did not start again and struck out twice in his last four at-bats as a Giant. In urgent need of an outfielder who can do more than whiff, the Giants acquired Kevin Pillar from the Blue Jays on April 2 and told Reed to clean out his locker.

Being designated for assignment at least allowed Reed to catch his breath. Being traded five days before the start of the regular season and trying to become acquainted with new teammates had left him gasping.

And that was before he learned he would start on opening day. With all of 35 at-bats in the major leagues entering the season, Reed does not believe he was over his head as much as he was in it too often. He turned into Crash Davis in the movie “Bull Durham” when Davis talked to himself at the plate. “You’re thinking too much, Crash. You’re thinking too much. Get out of your (expletive) head.”

Reed can relate. His new teammates did all they could to make me feel welcome, Reed said, but he might as well have been on a deserted island when he returned to the dugout after striking out again and again.

“There were quite a few guys who came to me and said, ‘We’ve got you. Just relax,’” Reed said. “At the same time, I’m thinking in my head that I’ve got to impress. Maybe I was pressing too much. I was looking at video (of his at-bats) every day. Maybe I should have gotten out of my head and just been an athlete.”

His confidence has remained intact through each trial and tribulation. Reed knows he can play in the major leagues. He expects a second chance will come his way and plans to take advantage of it when it arrives.

“At the end of the day, I don’t have to impress anybody,” Reed said. “I just need to be who I am and let everything else take care of itself. I know I can this game at the highest level. This game is a very tough game. You live and learn in this game. This is my ninth season and I’m still learning.”

An RBI double in his first at-bat with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats on April 5 was a step in the right direction. Strikeouts continue to be a problem for Reed, who has 10 in 31 at-bats. He is not making or taking time to think about statistics. His goal is build consistency to go along with his tenacity.

“I don’t think I’ve doubted myself, but there are times when you get down on yourself,” Reed said. “That was such a great opportunity (with the Giants) and I missed it. It is what it is. Hopefully I’ll get that chance again. As long as I have a jersey on my back, I have an opportunity.”

  • Share/Bookmark

Pitching suits ex-Bulldog Gonsolin

Kennedy Jorgensen no longer has to worry about her boyfriend having a suitable suit for a special occasion. She helped Tony Gonsolin find a new one last September in time for the 2012 Vacaville High School graduate to be honored by the Los Angeles Dodgers as their Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Gonsolin figured he would be fine with a suit that was as old as his high school diploma. Jorgensen realized as Gonsolin was getting dressed that his suit was no longer fit to fit him, so a shopping they would go.

“Panic hit,” Jorgensen recalled. “He could barely walk in it. There was no way he was going to sit down in it.”

Photo by Cody Roper/Oklahoma City Dodgers

Gonsolin will need to invest in a few suits if he makes it to the major leagues this season. He turned quite a few heads in spring training in Arizona by pitching nine shutout innings with six strikeouts.  He tossed three perfect innings and struck out three March 11 against the San Francisco Giants.

Most young pitchers would be in awe of major-league hitters. Gonsolin took his start against the Giants in stride, although striking out Evan Longoria to end the first inning was a thrill.

“I noticed it was (Longoria). He’s an All-Star. He’s legit,” Gonsolin said. “That was one of the more exciting moments. That was cool. I didn’t think about it when I was out there. I just made good pitches.”

That Gonsolin is pitching these days might come as a surprise. He was primarily an outfielder in his four years at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. He started 159 of 162 games in his last three seasons with the Gaels, but only 19 of those starts were on the mound. Gonsolin also made 28 appearances as a reliever.

Scouts must have discounted his 4-8 record and 3.78 ERA as a junior and senior at Saint Mary’s. One statistic they counted in those two seasons was strikeouts. Gonsolin whiffed 83 in 107 innings. His knack for strikeouts has continued in three minor-league seasons with 265 in 229 innings.

His prowess raises the question of whether Gonsolin is ready to pitch in the major leagues as soon as this season. Gonsolin has no idea what the future holds and will expend little time thinking about the unknown.

“It’s completely out of my control,” said Gonsolin, who lost in his first start for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday. “The decision is up to them. I’m just going out there and trying to get better.”

For Jorgensen, who was in Arizona working for the Cincinnati Reds, Gonsolin’s guessing game is nothing new. She was raised in baseball because her father, Randy, played in the minor leagues from 1993 to ’99. Randy never reached the major leagues, playing for eight teams in seven years and going from the West Coast (Bellingham, Wash.) to the East (Wilmington, N.C.)

Once Jorgensen and Gonsolin became an item, she was concerned her father would prefer for her to steer clear of the minor-league road. She got a taste of it in 2017 after buying an airline ticket to visit Gonsolin when he was with the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, Mich., only to have to change her destination. Gonsolin was promoted to Rancho Cucamonga as Jorgensen was packing for Michigan.

“He called me and said he had really good news and really bad news. I had a feeling it was going to happen,” said Jorgensen, who purchased travel insurance just in case her boyfriend would also be packing his bags.

Jorgensen arranged for Gonsolin and her father to meet during spring training in 2017 when they went to an Arizona Coyotes hockey game. When Jorgensen and her father parted ways that night, she got his scouting report.

“‘Tony is a nice guy …’” Jorgensen recalled her father saying as he stepped out of her car, “‘so far.”

So far with the Dodgers, it has been so good for Gonsolin.

  • Share/Bookmark