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Baseball roots trace back to mom for Bass

SAN DIEGO -- When Padres pitcher Anthony Bass talks about influential people in his life, he will always make sure to mention his father, Ed, who was his baseball coach growing up.

"Little League through travel ball, he's pretty much been my coach my whole life," Bass said.

But when it comes to deciding where Bass got his skills as a pitcher from, well, that point can often be a hot topic at home back in Michigan.

Bass' mother, Linda, is not only a skilled dental hygienist but apparently she has a pretty good arm, too.

"My mom, her claim to fame was that in Little League, she was my first pitcher," Bass said. "She was the one who pitched to me during coach-pitch. She always said that's where I get my skills."

Bass grew up in Trenton, Mich., and played for the Indians in his local Little League when, at 7, Linda Bass took her turn on the mound.

"My dad was coaching, so she took the ball on the mound and threw it to me," Bass said. "That was pretty exciting. I was trying to take her head off [with line drives]. She was just lobbing it up there."

Linda Bass certainly had more of an indelible impact on Bass' life than just tossing him baseballs. As he headed to Wayne State, a Division II school in Detroit, he was certain he wanted to follow in his mom's footsteps and enter the dental field. He was initially a pre-dentistry major at Wayne State.

"That was my goal," Bass said. "I really wanted to become a dentist and open my own family practice and have my mom help me. Unfortunately, I ran into some problems with science and decided that I should change directions. I ended up going the business-finance route."

Baseball changed Bass' path again, as he was drafted by the Padres in the fifth-round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Three years later, Bass found himself on the mound at Coors Field in Denver, making his Major League debut against the Rockies on June 13, 2001. Bass allowed one run in five innings that day, and he has been having success at the Major League level ever since.

Bass started the season in the San Diego bullpen but moved into the rotation early in the season after pitchers Tim Stauffer and Dustin Moseley, two members of the rotation, landed on the disabled list.

Bass, a starting pitcher throughout the Minor Leagues, is pitching like he doesn't want to go back to the bullpen.

In a game against the Giants on April 28, Bass retired the first 17 hitters he faced before allowing a hit in a loss at AT&T Park. He pitched eight innings and struck out eight batters that day -- both career highs -- without issuing a walk.

Now, the Padres feel, the sky is the limit for the 24-year-old.

"He's evolved from throwing to a pitcher," catcher Nick Hundley said. "He was a guy who first would rear back and throw it to a pitcher, [and became] a guy who is using all of his pitches. He's quickly improving."

One of the first phone calls Bass received after the game was from his family back in Trenton, which is located about 30 minutes south of Detroit.

"They stayed up late and watched," Bass said.

Bass' parents visited him in San Diego during the first week of the season. There's a trip planned in May when the Padres are in Chicago, with a big contingent of family and extended family making the trip to the Windy City from Trenton.

The Padres play three games at Wrigley Field against the Cubs on May 28-30, which means there's a good chance Bass could end up pitching in front of his family -- including his coach (Ed), and of course, his very first pitcher, his mother Linda.

"Coming from a big family -- there's four kids -- and she's worked as dental hygienist for 30-plus years," Bass said of his mother. "She's a really hard worker and very organized and someone I have always looked up to."

San Diego Padres, Anthony Bass