Nine days after finally making his major-league debut at age 28, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tim Adleman said he still wonders if this is really happening after a career full of disappointments and demotions.
“There were thoughts, and I hate to admit it, where quite often I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to get here; I don’t know if I’m good enough,’” said Adleman, a 6-foot-5 right-hander who will make his third career start tonight against Pittsburgh. “But I always thought that if I kept working and I kept enjoying playing the game, that I could find myself with an opportunity.”
After being released by the Baltimore Orioles less than two years after they drafted him in 2010, Adleman had an unsuccessful tryout with the independent Florence (Ky.) Freedom.
He eventually caught on with the Lincoln Saltdogs, the first of three independent teams he would pitch for the next two seasons.
Adleman posted a 1.46 ERA in 40 games with the New Jersey Jackals in 2013, leading the Reds to sign him, and despite a rough spring that saw him post a 22.85 ERA in four outings, Adleman got called up from Triple-A Louisville on May 1 to make his debut against the Pirates.
He allowed two runs on three hits in six innings and left with the lead before the bullpen blew it. Friday at Great American Ball Park, he recorded his first career win by holding Milwaukee to one run on four hits in five innings.
“I’m still trying to fit in and find my niche with this team and kind of keep my mouth shut, soak it all in and try to learn from whoever I can learn from,” said Adleman, who is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA, 10 strikeouts and five walks since his call-up.
“He throws the ball over the plate with three quality pitches,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He commands the zone well. He’s got one of those fastballs that — it’s good, I mean 91, 94 — but it has jump to it.
“He has a little hesitation in his delivery, which adds some deception, and his fastball has that little bit of jump that works at the top of the zone,” Price continued. “He’s a guy who’s taking an opportunity and running with it.”
That hitch in Adleman’s delivery may be what is responsible for saving his career.
“It came from an adjustment I made in double AA (Pensacola) in 2014 with our pitching coach Jeff Fassero,” Adleman said. “It was basically a movement to help me stay more directional toward the plate. I had struggled a little bit early in that year because I was kind of cutting myself off and becoming too rotational.
“As far as consciously thinking about the hitch, I never did that,” he added. “It just sort of developed because of the way we fixed my mechanics.”
It’s the reason Adleman, who began using the hitch while coming out of the bullpen, always pitches from the stretch.
“Part of that adjustment was to simplify things,” he said. “At the time I was out of the bullpen, so there’s no need to go from the windup. It was kind of a solution for one thing and I think we fixed a couple of other things at the same time.”
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