Young players always talk about their dream of playing in the big leagues. But let’s be honest, that’s not the dream. No one fantasizes about being a fifth outfielder, backup catcher or mop-up reliever. Small roles get a player to The Show — and that in itself is a dream come true — but it’s not the dream.
“I’m a patient guy,” Adam Warren said. “I’m pretty laid back, but the competitor in you kind of wants to pitch the big innings. You have to ease your way into it a little bit. I think pitching in some games that aren’t very close, if I take the mindset that, in my mind it’s close, then when you start getting into close games, it’s kind of the same feeling. You’re just going out there and pitching. You just have to be patient and see what comes your way.”
Injuries open opportunities. They open the door for guys like Preston Claiborne to get to the big leagues, and they open the door for guys like Jayson Nix, Chris Stewart and Warren to take on larger roles. When Joba Chamberlain went on the disabled list, and Dave Robertson was unavailable with a hamstring injury on Friday, Warren stepped into a two-run game and pitched three scoreless innings. He allowed some base runners, but got some big outs and did his part to give the Yankees a chance in a tight game.
“We lost (so) it can’t be too satisfying,” Warren said. “But it’s a step in the right direction. I just want to keep taking steps in the right direction and not take a step back. … Obviously we’re hoping these guys get back as fast as possible, but while they’re out we’ve just got to try to step up as a bullpen and eat innings as much as possible. I do see it as an opportunity to kind of improve myself a little bit.”
A year ago, David Phelps broke camp in the Warren role. He was a long reliever with no big league track record, and he was used primarily in extreme situations. But he pitched pretty well, opportunities presented themselves, and Phelps became a trusted and versatile part of the pitching staff.
You can bet Warren was paying attention.
“You just have to stay mentally focused,” he said. “Things can change so quick. For me personally, I try to have a good attitude about whatever role I’m in. Opportunities arise. You do have to stay kind of mentally focused even though you may not be pitching in games that are close to start out with, just try to stay sharp for when you do get that opportunity.”
Associated Press photo