Shearn proves to be more than stopgap for Reds
The 30-year-old rookie has created a future for himself in the Reds' pitching rotation.
By Hal McCoy
Friday, September 07, 2007
CINCINNATI — Tom Shearn came out of nowhere, out of a trailer door where he was living behind the center-field wall at Louisville's Slugger Field.
He was selected to pitch a game for the Cincinnati Reds on an emergency basis because, well, there was nobody left but Mr. Red or Gapper.
And Shearn is still here, a 30-year-old rookie who had made 352 minor-league appearances before getting his chance in the big leagues.
It was expected he would take his one-game beating and slink off into the night, taking with him the chance to tell his grandkids, "Hey, I pitched a game in the major leagues."
But that first game, Aug. 26 against Florida, was a brow-raiser — seven innings, three runs and a 9-3 victory. OK, so it was Florida. At least it earned him a second start, this time against the more potent St. Louis Cardinals.
He didn't win, but he could have. He turned over a 5-3 lead to the bullpen, but Eddie Guardado gave up a grand slam to Rick Ankiel, and the Reds lost 8-5.
Next it was the powerful New York Mets, and Shearn was cutting-edge sharp — no runs and three hits over six innings in a 7-0 win.
The leaves him with a 2-0 record and 3.12 earned-run average. He is as much a part of the rotation for the rest of the year as Aaron Harang, and Shearn has put himself into consideration for next year's rotation.
"What I liked about him from Day 1 was that he is fearless, not one bit afraid, even though he is a rookie," said Reds manager Pete Mackanin. "Maybe it is because he is older and spent so much time in the minors."
Maybe he is just good.
Shearn, though, isn't cocky and isn't gloating. If anything, he doesn't quite believe all this is happening to him.
After beating the Mets, Shearn gave more credit to catcher Javier Valentin than to himself — and thanked Mets manager Willie Randolph for keeping five of his regulars resting on the bench.
"Javy called a great game," said Shearn. "He knew all the hitters, especially since his brother (Jose) plays for them, so I figured he should know 'em all, and I went with what he called."
Shearn laughed when asked about facing a first-place team and said, "It was nerve-wracking, especially watching them the night before and seeing that lineup they throw out there. I was hoping some of them got a day off, and a bunch of 'em did."
But he made a quick admission.
"In my first three games, the only time I was star-struck was when I saw Albert Pujols walk to the plate," he said.
Shearn walked Pujols the first time, then struck him out looking and got him to pop to shortstop.
When it was pointed out to Shearn that most teams haven't seen him, he said, "Yeah, thank God for that, and I'm waiting for the day they catch up with my 68-miles-an-hour curveball. Hopefully, they just watch it for the rest of the year."
Shearn isn't greedy. He'd love to pitch in the rotation next year, but he'll take anything that involves wearing a major-league uniform.
"I hope I finish strong and if they go out and get some pitching maybe they'll look at me as a long man out of the bullpen," he said. "I hope I've opened some eyes so I can come into spring training next year and be given a chance to win a job."