The four glorious words of professional baseball are about to be uttered again: “Pitchers and catchers report.”
That means it soon will be time for Colorado Rockies minor league pitcher Austin Chambliss and Boston Red Sox prospect Josh Reddick to report to work. Chambliss has been “taking it easy, really and trying to get back into shape,” he said. Reddick got an offseason job, typically of many minor leaguers, working at Wiley’s in Rincon.
“The time off probably has done me some good,” Chambliss said, “but I’m ready to go back.”
At short-season Single-A Tri-City (Wash.), the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Chambliss went 4-3 with 6.35 earned run average in 22 appearances. He allowed 20 earned runs on 33 hits in 28 1/3 innings, but he struck out 40 and only walked 10.
Rockies pitching instructors have worked with him on using his height to his advantage.
Chambliss worked out one afternoon throwing to South Effingham senior catcher. Reddick also has worked out with the Mustangs during the offseason, keeping his batting eye sharp.
The duo also has been faithful in sticking to their offseason workouts and using South Effingham’s facilities.
“It’s great,” South Effingham coach Tony Kirkland said. “I’ve got a (high school) catcher handling a pro pitcher.
Reddick’s been working out with two of my outfielders.”
Reddick, likely bound for California once spring training is done and the high Single-A Lancaster Jet Hawks, opened eyes in the Red Sox organization with a terrific year at Single-A Greenville (S.C.). He hit .306 with 18 home runs and 72 runs batted in. Reddick had 17 doubles and six triples and struck out just 51 times in 369 at-bats.
He was called up to Double-A Portland (Maine) for the Eastern League playoffs, going hitless in one at-bat.
Even with the job and the nighttime turns in the batting cage, the offseason has been “kinda slow,” Reddick said.
“I finally got back into the swing of things (in December),” he said.
Chambliss said the best pitch in his arsenal is his curveball, though he wouldn’t mind perfecting a changeup.
“I think the changeup is the best pitch in baseball,” he said. “It’s not my best pitch, but I think it is the best pitch in baseball. The change of speeds can fool a hitter.”
He’s followed the Rockies’ offseason training regimen, to an extent.
“I did take a couple of months off,” he said, “but I am getting back into it.”
Reddick has been to minor league camp; this will be the first for Chambliss, who was drafted out of Middle Georgia College last summer. The Rockies’ spring training is held in Tucson, Ariz.
“I’m just ready,” Chambliss said of his inaugural Cactus League appearance. “I’m ready to get back out there and see what it’s all about. I’m ready to get back on the field and start playing again.”
Reddick actually will start spring training before most of the Red Sox minor leaguers as one of about 40 selected for mini-camp at Fort Myers, Fla. His main target in the offseason has been his diet — not for losing weight but for gaining it. The 175-pound Reddick lost weight playing in the heat of the Grapefruit League last spring and in the South Atlantic League last summer.
“They’ll take care of me and keep an eye on me,” he said.