GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Drew Storen was looking to take "baby steps" his first time pitching in a Reds uniform."It's exciting," Storen said before Tuesday's game, a 10-9 loss to the White Sox. "The first experience of spring is always fun. Just go out there and try to build on everything,
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Drew Storen was looking to take "baby steps" his first time pitching in a Reds uniform.
"It's exciting," Storen said before Tuesday's game, a 10-9 loss to the White Sox. "The first experience of spring is always fun. Just go out there and try to build on everything, whether it's live BP or a bullpen [session], just try to take a step forward and get ready for Opening Day."
Veterans like Storen may get excited about February baseball, but they know better than to get excited about February results. Good thing, given Storen's three-run, three-hits-and-a-walk outing that ended after two-thirds of an inning.
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The former closer was pitching in the fifth inning, which has little to do with where he'll end up pitching when the season starts. Manager Bryan Price talks of using a handful of closing-capable pitchers to divvy up duties and handle the big moments when they come. So Storen's debut came at a time that wouldn't normally cue his adrenaline: the middle innings of a game the Reds were leading, 5-1.
"I've always had my best successes in those high-leverage situations, whether it's the ninth or the sixth, seventh, eighth, whatever," Storen said. "You're starting to see people giving credit to the setup guys a little more now. The save doesn't always come in the ninth. On paper it does. But there are big spots where we can help early. You can have a great closer, but if you can't get him the ball, it doesn't do you any good."
When it came to proving that point, Tuesday's game was Exhibit A. The Reds saw a four-run lead turn into a five-run deficit by the eighth inning, and if the Reds had any intention of seeing one of their pitchers close a game, Storen and the middle relievers couldn't get him the ball.
"I'm just trying to feel good," Storen said of his focus before the game. "As long as I feel healthy and I'm executing, throwing strikes. You've got to understand the process. It might not always be pretty, but as long as you're feeling good and getting the ball over, especially in this air, you're doing all right."
It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't anything Price was concerned about.
"I liked his stuff," Price said. "He had good action on his fastball, really good slider and change. They put some balls in play. It's one of those days. Things could have worked out differently. They didn't. But I liked his stuff. I'm not concerned about him."
For February baseball, the "baby steps" Storen sought in his Cactus League debut suited him just fine.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.