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.”

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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.

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What Doss showed scouts will tell

Tammie Chambless (middle left) uses her phone to time her son, Keelan Doss, in the 40-yard dash Friday morning at UC Davis. NFL scouts were on hand to watch Doss run, jump and catch in a Pro Day workout that may well determine if the former Aggies wide receiver is picked in the NFL draft.
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Book called audible to play for Irish

This story was first published in September 2015 when Ian Book was a senior at Oak Ridge High School.

Ian Book made the call. He did not send an email or try to talk his parents or coaches at Oak Ridge High School into bailing him out. The senior quarterback realized he would have to take this one.

Any pressure that Book faces Friday night when Oak Ridge plays Vacaville at Tom Zunino Stadium will be nothing compared with what he had to confront into deciding where he will play in college.

Ian Book has gone from facing Vacaville High to leading Notre Dame to the national playoffs.

Book had hoped to be a man of his word. He made a verbal commitment to Washington State University with every intention of continuing his football career with the Cougars. That will not happen.

Notre Dame saw to that with a scholarship offer to Book even though he was supposedly off the market. That was enough for Book to change his mind, leaving him with one difficult call to make.

Graham Harrell had recruited Book to Washington State. Harrell paid a visit to El Dorado Hills last spring to meet Book’s family and watch Book play lacrosse for Oak Ridge. He was sold on Book.

So was Mike Sanford, who had recruited Book to Boise State until leaving the Broncos to become the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame. Book was torn between Boise State and Washington State until Sanford left, so that news prompted Book to make a commitment to the Cougars.

Book’s future seemed to be a done deal until he got a call one day from Sanford. At first, Book did not think much of the call other than to think Sanford was merely checking in on a former recruit.

That was not the reason for Sanford’s call. After joining Brian Kelly’s staff at Notre Dame, Sanford began to sing the quarterback’s praises and convinced the Fighting Irish to take a look at Book.

An impromptu visit was arranged for Book this summer after he and his parents returned from a Caribbean cruise. They jumped on a flight from Miami to Chicago and then drove to South Bend, Ind.

“I fell in love,” he said, “with Notre Dame.”

Book’s visit ended with a scholarship offer. As much as he might have been tempted to accept it on the spot, Book realized he could not do so without first finding the nerve to call Washington State.

“(Book) was terrified that (the Cougars) would hear the news from someone other than him,” said Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere, a 1987 Vacaville graduate who is 3-0 against his alma mater.

Notre Dame’s offer was put on hold until Book returned home to weigh his options once again. “I needed time. It all happened so fast,” he said. “But when I got home, I didn’t need that much time.”

Turning down scholarship offers from the likes of San Diego State and Nevada was easy for Book because he did not commit to any of those universities. He did so with Washington State, however.

Imagine Harrell’s disappointment felt when Book called to say he had changed his mind. After explaining his decision to Harrell, Book said Harrell then handed the phone to head coach Mike Leach.

“I had to say the whole thing again,” Book said. “It caught them off-guard unfortunately. I could tell they were (mad). That was the hardest part. It was pretty awkward, but I was glad I told them.”

Book’s next call was to Notre Dame.  Within seconds, Cavaliere got a call from a Chicago Tribune reporter asking about Book after the Fighting Irish announced Book had committed to Notre Dame. News of Book’s decision spread quickly on the Internet. Cavaliere took a minute to check Book’s highlight video on and found 15,000 new hits within 24 hours of the announcement.

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