Cam Bedrosian was practically baptized in a major league clubhouse. He was born on Oct. 2, 1991, and three weeks later his father, then a Minnesota Twins reliever, passed him around the Metrodome locker room before Game 6 of the World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
“I obviously don’t remember it,” said Bedrosian, now a hard-throwing, 23-year-old right-hander competing for a spot in the Angels’ bullpen. “But I’ve seen pictures of Kirby Puckett holding me before the game he hit the home run.”
That would be Puckett’s dramatic 11th-inning, walk-off shot that gave the Twins a 4-3 victory and forced Game 7. Minnesota clinched the title behind the arm of Jack Morris, who threw 10 innings in a 1-0 victory that gave Steve Bedrosian a World Series ring to go with his 1987 National League Cy Young Award.
The elder Bedrosian retired in 1995, when Cam was 4, so Cam has only vague memories of being in Atlanta’s Fulton-County Stadium as his father closed out a 14-year big-league career with the Braves.
But there were plenty of perks to growing up the son of a reliever with a 3.38 career earned-run average and 184 saves.
Steve taught Cam proper pitching mechanics “from the time I was baby,” Cam said. Steve coached Cam through youth leagues and high school in Georgia and still provides tips when he catches Cam’s winter bullpen workouts.
“There are a lot of guys I listen to, but he’s the guy who has seen me my whole life,” Bedrosian said. “When I’m doing something wrong, he’ll know what it is. I’m really fortunate to have someone like that.”
With the Bedrosian name comes expectations that you’ll throw hard, be a bulldog on the mound, have the cool nickname “Bedrock,” and pitch in the back of a major league bullpen.
“But a name can only take you so far,” said Bedrosian, a first-round pick in 2010. “I learned that when I got to pro ball. A last name can’t get you a strike. It’s not going to throw the ball over the plate. This is something I have to do for myself. I have to make the club. I have to establish myself in the big leagues.”
Bedrosian clearly has the pedigree and pitches — a 95-mph fastball, sharp slider and developing change up — to succeed, but his first taste of the big leagues was sour.
Summoned from double-A Arkansas to boost a sagging Angels bullpen in June, Bedrosian, then 22, was tagged for nine earned runs and eight hits, including a home run, in 5 2/3 innings of his first six games.
On June 19 at Cleveland, after the Angels rallied for two runs in the 10th, Bedrosian gave up a walk, double and walk to load the bases in the bottom of the 10th. Ernesto Frieri replaced Bedrosian and gave up a walk-off grand slam to Nick Swisher.
Bedrosian was sent back to Arkansas, where he had a 1.11 ERA in 30 games, striking out 57 and walking 10 in 32 1/3 innings. He returned for three more stints with the Angels, finishing with a 6.52 ERA in 17 games.
There were outings in which he looked dominant, like the two scoreless innings he threw in a 19-inning win over Boston on Aug. 9 and scoreless two-inning stints at Houston (Sept. 2) and Oakland (Sept. 22). But Bedrosian struggled with his command and too often left his fastball up and over the plate.
“In talking to guys who saw him for most of last year, we didn’t see the same stuff that he was throwing in double-A,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We didn’t see the good fastball command, the good slider.
“He doesn’t have to adjust his stuff. He needs to bring that repertoire to the field and be consistent with it. He needs to get comfortable in a big-league environment.”
Bedrosian called Scioscia’s assessment fair and accurate.
“I’ve had this thing where I move up a level and over-think things,” Bedrosian said. “I give the hitters too much credit and think I have to do more. I feel like I did that a lot last year.”
As with all things baseball, Bedrosian sought counsel from his father this winter.
“He said the biggest thing is to stick with my stuff,” Bedrosian said. “I know I can pitch here and have done it a couple of times. It’s a matter of putting that together every time I go out there instead of sometimes falling out of sync.”
Bedrosian is not expected to make the team out of spring training, but he will likely be one of the first arms called up from triple-A Salt Lake to replace an injured or struggling reliever.
He had a rocky spring debut, giving up three runs and four hits in 1/3 inning against Oakland on Saturday, but like his shaky outings as a rookie last season, he’s learning to let go.
“I’m trying not to put too much stock into one outing, one bad pitch,” Bedrosian said. “I need to forget about it and move on to the next pitch. I know these guys believe in me. Now, I just have to go out and do it.”