West grad throwing heat for Dragons
Big right-hander Matt Klinker pitching well for Reds' Class A club
By Steven Matthews
Thursday, July 10, 2008
DAYTON Matt Klinker took the mound Wednesday night, July 9, for the Dayton Dragons, and more than likely, it rained at some point.
Klinker, a 2003 Lakota West High graduate, is in his first season with the Dragons the Class A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and weather has been a factor nearly every time he's been on the hill.
Entering Wednesday night's home start against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Klinker, 23, had appeared in 15 games (14 starts); six were postponed a day, while it rained during the game seven times.
Rain aside, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander has posted a 3-4 record with a 3.87 earned-run average.
A year ago, he pitched at Billings, and was 2-2 with a 5.44 ERA after getting selected by the Reds in the 15th round of the 2007 draft out of Furman University.
"Matt's a hard worker," Dragons' pitching coach Doug Bair said. "He's an intelligent guy. He has baseball aptitude how the game should be played, the fundamentals of the game. He listens. He works on what I have to give him. He shows real good concentration during the game."
Klinker took some time to chat with The Pulse-Journal prior to Monday's game.
On the season: "I started off on the seven-day DL (shoulder soreness). After that got away, I got off to a great start. My ERA was right around 3. Then there was rumors of a promotion coming, and I got a little excited. That didn't happen. That was a little discouraging. I got lit up a couple starts. Last two or three outings have been good. Hopefully I can keep that going the rest of the season."
On life as a minor-leaguer: "It's every day. Basically, we get here early enough to get a full practice in, and then turn around and play that night. It's a long day. It's a grind. But it's a lot of fun. You're playing with really talented guys. Obviously, you're not getting paid a lot, but they're really committed and really dedicated. They really love the game of baseball."
On his short- and long-term goals: "The biggest thing going into spring training was to break camp on time. I made the Dayton club, and that was one of my goals. My second goal was to get promoted some time during the season. That still might happen. Long-term goal, trying to move up one level every year. The ultimate goal is to play in the majors. Everything's on the timetable that I was expecting. Hopefully it continues that way."
On playing at sold-out Fifth Third Field: "It's awesome. It's so close to home and I've got a lot of family that can come up for starts. It's also great that it's a packed house. The first couple games on the weekend were packed, but we didn't think it was going to continue during the week. But we still get 8,000 or 9,000 people. It's incredible the support the city gives us. It's really fun to play here."