Sox rookie Reed starts strong

CHICAGO -- Addison Reed doesn’t remember why he started pitching as a high school senior in California.

All the Chicago White Sox reliever can now recall is being asked to pitch and agreeing to it. He didn’t know it then, but his decision to pitch would change his life.

“In high school, pitching never crossed my mind,” Reed, 23, said. “I was always a first baseman and a hitter. Up until my senior year of high school, I never realistically thought I’d be pitching.”

From then to now, Reed, a rookie, has quickly developed into one of the best young arms in baseball. He’s considered by ESPN the White Sox’s top organizational prospect, and he has already shown off his potential this season by being only one of seven pitchers in the majors to not allow run while making at least 11 appearances.

Reed’s scoreless games streak is the second longest by a White Sox rookie reliever to start a season since 1921. Sergio Santos owns the longest streak with 12 consecutive games to start the 2010 season.

In his 11 appearances this season, the right-handed Reed has allowed five hits and no runs, walked three and struck out 11 in 8 2/3 innings.

It’s not too shabby for someone who wasn’t even sure he would be in the majors to start the season.

“The only thing was I was busting my bust and trying to break camp with the team because there was no guarantee that I was even going to start the year up here,” said Reed, who is 6-4 and 220 pounds. “Honestly, I wasn’t 100 percent until Robin (Ventura) came up and told me that I was on the team. I think that was with a few days left in camp.”

Since Reed was assured a spot, his confidence has carried him. He had gone through the initial nerves of being in the majors last season when he made six appearances in September.

Pitching was all he had to worry about this time around.

“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable,” Reed said. “I think that last month last year really helped me out. It kind of made me more familiar with how things work up here. Kind of getting used to everything that comes with pitching up here. I hope to keep it going and hope to finish strong.”

Reed’s fastball and slider have made him nearly unhittable this season. He has turned to his fastball, which averages around 95 mph, 69 percent of the time this season. He has gone to the slider, which Baseball America tabbed as the best slider in the organization, 25 percent of the time, and he also occasionally has thrown his changeup.

Reed’s changeup is something he put a lot of work into during spring training.

“The main thing was going out there and throwing it,” Reed said. “It’s one of those pitches that’s a feel pitch. The more you throw it the more comfortable you get with it.

“It’s nice for me to know I can throw strikes. Hopefully, it puts another pitch in the hitter’s heads, so they’re not sitting on fastball and slider.”

Because of Reed’s velocity and effective slider, his name has come up as the potential closer for the White Sox. Being a rookie, though, it isn’t a role he’s pushing for just yet.

“If it happens, it happens,” Reed said. “If not, I’m completely satisfied with what I’m doing right now. Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do.

“Right now, I’m completely happy throwing the seventh, eighth. If they want me to throw the ninth this year or somewhere down the road the next few years, that’s fine by me. As long I’m pitching, I’m happy.”

Ventura has been pleased with Reed in his current role.

“He hasn’t given up any runs,” Ventura said. “That’s been good. He’s got good velocity, location. He has great presence when he goes on the mound. He’s easy to call on. That’s good.”

What has added to Reed’s enjoyment this season has been the success of his friend and former San Diego State teammate Stephen Strasburg, who is started the season off 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA.

“Every time he starts I try to watch as much as I can,” Reed said. “I always keep up with him. He’s throwing the ball really well this year. I’ve never seen a pitcher as good as him.

“It was fun being at that school with him and actually watching him pitching, and it’s awesome seeing him succeed at this level, too.”