Rogers looking to sink teeth into Majors
Reds prospect -- and shark-bite victim -- doing well in big league camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Every player's route to the Major Leagues is different, but they typically follow a similar path.
Upon being drafted, whether out of high school or college, a prospect typically signs and reports to the Minor Leagues where he spends a few years honing his skills and waiting for a call to join the big league club.
Chad Rogers, a 23-year-old pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization, is progressing along the traditional path, but this was not always the case.
While surfing in Galveston, Texas -- just three weeks after the Reds drafted him in the 28th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft -- Rogers was bitten by a shark.
"I went out there, paddled out and was sitting on my board after catching a wave," Rogers said. "Next thing I knew, something was tugging at my foot and it happened to be a shark."
Hundreds of jagged shark teeth piercing Rogers' foot with a significant amount of force undoubtedly caused the right-hander a lot of pain, but he didn't recall sensing the trauma until he made it back to land.
"At first, all I felt was the initial contact," Rogers said. "Then I went into shock. Adrenaline took over. I got to shore and once I got back to the truck I started feeling it and almost passed out from losing quite a bit of blood. My buddy took me to the hospital and then stuff really started throbbing, I could really feel it."
Rogers knows he was lucky to survive the attack and sign with the Reds 60 stitches later, but the fact he was even attacked is incredibly unlucky and rare.
Between 1580 and 2010 there were 947 confirmed shark attacks in the United States, according to the International Shark Attack File. That works out to an average of 4.1 attacks per year.
In Galveston, the number of attacks is a bit higher than in the United States as a whole, but the odds of being attacked remain low as there were merely 15 attacks between 1911 and 2012, which equates to about 6.7 attacks per year.
"Freak accident," Rogers said. "Was sitting out there the day before I was supposed to pitch for signing-bonus money. Guess I shouldn't have been at the beach."
After sitting out five weeks to let his foot heal, Rogers eventually resumed throwing and signed with the Reds in August 2010.
The experience, which likely would have deterred most from surfing and going to the beach in general, did not alter Rogers' love for surfing. Rogers still surfs and even acknowledges the attack on Twitter as his handle is @SharkRogers.
Rogers spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons in the Reds Minor League system, reaching Double-A Pensacola last season, and compiled a 15-9 record with a 2.92 ERA.
After productive seasons in the Minors, Rogers began his offseason throwing program a few weeks early this season while both hoping for and anticipating an invitation to big league camp.
"I started picking up the ball about two weeks before January," Rogers said. "I was just getting ready, wanted to get my arm in shape just in case I got the call for big league Spring Training. I wanted to be ready."
Rogers usually does not begin his offseason throwing program until January, but the World Baseball Classic forced Spring Training to come earlier this season.
As a non-roster invitee, Rogers has allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and is pleased with his development thus far.
"Awesome," Rogers said. "I'm pitching good, throwing strikes and just working on keeping the ball low in the zone. Hopefully I can continue to build on things and get ready for the season."
Just because he has been able to pitch the way he wants for the beginning of spring does not mean Rogers is satisfied with his performance.
For the remainder of Spring Training, Rogers' goals are simple.
"Just throwing strikes with all of my pitches," Rogers said. "It's always good to have three pitches that you can throw for strikes in any count and that's what I'm working on every day, just going out there, going after hitters and getting guys out."
As one of 18 non-roster invitees in Reds camp, Rogers' projected path to the Majors -- from here on out -- appears to be that of a typical prospect.