Steve Reed knew his road to the major leagues would be filled with detours and traffic jams.
“When you get into pro ball and you’re signed as a free agent, the road is a lot longer,” said Reed, a pitcher who signed with the San Francisco Giants in 1988.
“I knew it was going to take some time to overcome the fact that I wasn’t a high draft pick. But once I got in and saw the competition, I knew I wasn’t overmatched.”
Reed, 26, has dominated batters all season at double-A Shreveport, La., in the Southern League and triple-A Phoenix in the Pacific Coast League. Last week the former Chatsworth High standout set a minor league record when he recorded his 43rd save.
Despite his credentials, Reed appears to have been victimized this season by an already overcrowded bullpen in San Francisco, which has several pitchers acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the Kevin Mitchell trade and others with large guaranteed contracts.
“I know that if I was in a situation where I was a high draft pick, I would have been in the big leagues sooner,” said Reed, who played at Pierce and Moorpark colleges before signing after two seasons with Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Ida.
“But there are a lot of good things being said about me.”
On Saturday, Reed’s efforts were rewarded. He was called up by the Giants while pitcher Francisco Oliveras was optioned to Phoenix.
Reed was 2-0 with an 0.83 earned-run average and seven saves in 22 innings last season at Shreveport. He spent spring training working with Phoenix but was bumped down to Shreveport on the last day of camp.
“That kind of (hurt),” Reed said. “They had some other guys they wanted to see, I guess. I knew I had to go down there and put up some numbers.”
Reed started the season by compiling 23 saves with no walks and 30 strikeouts in 30 innings.
“It’s kind of been steamrolling,” Reed said. “I’ve been lucky to have played on two teams that are involved in a lot of close games that have given me opportunities.”
Memorable bunt: Former Camarillo High standout Ken Sirak played an important role in a historic game last week between the Clearwater Phillies and the Winter Haven Red Sox in the Class-A Florida State League.
Sirak, who signed with the Phillies in 1989 out of Nebraska, squeezed home the lone run in the seventh inning of Clearwater’s 1-0 victory that featured no-hitters by both teams.
“It was a really weird situation and kind of a funny game,” said Sirak, who is batting .245 with one home run and 24 runs batted in.
“Usually, in a no-hitter, you have a great play or two to save it. There weren’t any great plays in that game; every ball was routine. The only odd thing about it was that there was a 35-minute rain delay.
“The umpire kind of made it a little easier for the pitchers. His strike zone was unbelievable. But I guess you have to expect that during a game in August in Florida.”
Sirak, 23, batted .255 with three homers and 31 RBIs last season for Class-A Spartanburg (S.C.) in the South Atlantic League. He has been plagued by injuries this season, including a sprained ankle, inflamed shoulder and bad back.
“It’s been rough,” he said. “When your body doesn’t feel right, you go up to the plate and it seems like pitchers are throwing 102 m.p.h., even though they’re really throwing 85 or 86 m.p.h.”
Hanging on: Rick Allen got a change of scenery earlier this season when the Cincinnati Reds gave him his release after a horrible start at Chattanooga, Tenn., in the double-A Southern League.
“They called me in and said they could send me back to A ball and get some at-bats, but I asked them if they would just release me and let me try to hook on with someone else,” said Allen, who played at Calabasas High and signed in 1989 out of Loyola Marymount.
“Two days later, the Twins called. They assigned me to Orlando (in the Southern League) and I ended up meeting the team and finishing a road trip in Chattanooga.”
Allen, 25, was a third baseman in college and in his first three years in the minors. But he has been playing shortstop almost every day for Orlando.
Allen has continued to struggle at the plate, batting .181 with one homer and 17 RBIs in 77 games for Orlando.
“I dug myself a pretty deep hole at the start of the season,” said Allen, who batted .251 last year in double A. “I haven’t really done enough to move up next season, but we’ll see what happens.”