Working his way back
Spring demotion came as shock to young relief pitcher
BY KEVIN KELLY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
COLUMBUS - Ryan Wagner wore a suit to work the day the Reds broke spring training camp.
"I thought I was heading to Cincinnati," he said. "Then you get called into the office."
The competition for the final spot in the bullpen came down to Wagner and Mike Burns. The Reds kept Burns and optioned Wagner to Triple-A Louisville.
"It caught me by surprise," Wagner said. "When you think you're going to make the team and you don't, you're obviously disappointed."
The right-hander, who went 3-2 with a 6.11 ERA in 42 relief appearances with the Reds last season, is over the disappointment and eager to get back to the major leagues.
For that to happen, there is some work to be done.
Wagner is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA after Wednesday's relief appearance against the Columbus Clippers at Cooper Stadium. The Clippers, managed by Dave Miley, won 3-0.
"The numbers don't show much," said Wagner, who struck out two and walked one in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. "It's early. I had a bad outing the other day (against Syracuse), which kind of blew me up a little bit.
"I'm just working on some things and going out there and trying to throw up some zeroes."
Wagner went 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA and two saves in 12 appearances this spring. He allowed seven hits over 13 innings.
Through nine appearances with the Bats this season, Wagner has allowed 15 hits in 11 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting .313 against him, and five of the eight runners he has inherited have scored.
"He has tremendous stuff," Louisville manager Rick Sweet said. "But he's not throwing the quality strikes that he needs to throw.
"That's what he is here to do."
Wagner is working on throwing all of his pitches for strikes, but in particular his two-seam fastball and changeup.
"Just things a pitcher has to work on every time he goes out there," he said. "That's what I'm trying to do down here."
The Reds' first pick in the 2003 draft, Wagner began this season with just 24 career minor-league appearances compared to 108 with the Reds.
What does he miss most about the majors?
"Living the dream," Wagner said. "You're in the major leagues. That's the goal of any baseball player."