One Pitch At A Time

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: September 8, 2010

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MILWAUKEE (BASN) — When major league teams expanded their roster to 40 players last week, one player in particular, who was one strike away from throwing away his baseball career, had nerves of steel Monday.

The Milwaukee Brewers stuck with Jeremy Jeffress after his off the field troubles as a pitcher in their minor league system. He was suspended for 100 games by MLB last June for violating the minor league drug treatment and prevention program.

He was reinstated this May and sent to Class-A Wisconsin. The organization protected Jeffries by adding him to their 40-man roster.

After Jeffress was called up on Sept. 1 from Double-A Huntsville, he threw an inning in his first big league action against the Cincinnati Reds on the road, giving up a hit.

The knot in Jeffress’ stomach returned in the home game against the St. Louis Cardinals when manager Ken Macha put him in the game in the top of the eighth inning with a runner at first base in a 2-2 tie and two of the best hitters on the Cardinals coming up.

National League MVP Albert Pujols probably salivated, standing in the on-deck circle while he watched Jeffress warm up. He stood in the batter’s box and Jeffress was set to pitch.

He blew the ball past Pujols for a first-pitch strike. The next three pitches were outside and low. Pujols hit a hard grounder to Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee, who bobbled the ball for an error.

Both runners were safe at first and second.

Matt Holliday was up next. He had a 2-0 count before Jeffress threw inside for a strike. Holliday looked at home plate umpire Tim Tschida because he couldn’t believe that was a strike.

Holliday walked away after another called strike. He extended his bat on a 2-2 pitch and hit the ball past the outstretched glove of Prince Fielder for the go-ahead run.

Jeffress got orders from Macha to intentionally walk St. Louis’ Colby Rasmus, and after 14 pitches, that was all for him after his 10 minutes of fame. “I thought (Jeffress) did well,” Macha said. “I liked his power against Pujols and Holliday.”

He got two ground balls for us. Before he left the mound, I told him, ‘You did a great job. You got us ground balls.’ “He came back and he made those guys (Pujols, Holliday) put the ball in play. He’ll be okay.”

At least the Brewers got a chance to evaluate Jeffress’ pitching while he’s up here. Said Jeffress after the game: “I just take one pitch at a time and keep the same pace and do the best I can.”