10/08/2002 9:01 pm ET
Reed beginning to feel at home
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Rick Reed wasn't exactly thrilled when he was traded to the small-market Minnesota Twins last season.
And who can blame him? He was an All-Star pitcher on the biggest stage in baseball, New York City. He was in the middle of his fifth season with the Mets and had just signed a long-term, multimillion dollar deal. But, in a twist of fate, life threw him a curveball on June 30, 2001.
"It was a shock," Reed said. "I'm not going to lie. I thought, when I signed that three-year deal in New York, that's where I was gong to end my career."
He finished the season with the Twins, but got there just in time to contribute to their late-season stumble. Reed posted a 4-6 record with a 5.19 ERA in 12 starts and watched the team lose its hold on first place in the AL Central.
No wonder, once Spring Training rolled around, Reed demanded a trade.
"That was my right," Reed said at a pre-game press conference. "I was traded in the middle of a multi-year contract. I guess you can look at it like I was going to be a free agent or whatever, but that was my right and I was going to weigh my options. I'm glad I didn't go anywhere, or I wouldn't be sitting here right now."
So are the Twins.
After posting a respectable 6-5 record prior to the All-Star break, Reed caught fire. He became the anchor of the Twins' rotation over the last three months of the season, going 9-2 with a 2.88 ERA.
According to his teammates and coaches, there are a number of reasons for the improvement.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski thinks it has a lot to do with Reed becoming more comfortable with him and backup Tom Prince.
"I think it's a little bit of a comfort level between myself, him and Princey," said Pierzynski. "And us just finding what works for him and makes him tick. Reed has communicated with us about what he wants to do and how he likes to pitch, and it just took us a while to figure that out."
His pitching coach, Rick Anderson, thinks getting rid of the nagging injuries he'd been pitching through led to the improvement. His manager, Ron Gardenhire, thinks it's all about him having better location.
All three are probably right.
"We're just really glad to have him," Gardenhire said. "He's been fantastic for us. He's pitched very well for us since mid-season -- just outstanding. He wants the ball. He's a big-game type guy."
And his biggest game as a Twin comes Wednesday, when he'll take the hill against Anaheim's Ramon Ortiz in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
Past history will be on Reed's side.
He's 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA against the Angels in his career, and in his only start against them this season, he allowed one run on three hits in a complete-game victory.
"Rick's always been tough on us," said Halo's manager Mike Scioscia. "He's a pitcher who has an incredible feel out there on the mound. He has very, very good command, changes speeds well. He's not afraid to challenge guys."
That was obvious in his Game 3 loss to Oakland in the ALDS. He started the game by giving up back-to-back home runs and ended up tying the Division Series record when the A's hit four home runs off him.
"I was fine," Reed said of his outing. "They just came out swinging the bats, and they hit the ball hard. After the first two, I sort of settled in, but those first two guys -- they put the attack on and made us pay."
Reed will be looking for retribution against the Angels Wednesday evening, but he knows it won't be as easy a task as he's made it seem throughout his career.
"We know they run the bases and make things happen on the bases," he said. "So it's gonna be tough."
And although Reed still misses New York, the Twin Cities seem to be growing on the right-hander.
"I made a lot of friends in New York," said Reed. "But I'm starting to make friends here in Minnesota."
If he can find a way to beat the Angels in Game 2, he's guaranteed to make at least 56,000 more.
Todd Lorenz is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.