Holding a Lead – Holding on to a Career

Posted by on May 29th, 2015  •  0 Comments  • 

You know the stars at Petco Park, Kemp, Upton, Shields, Norris.  But it takes a 25-man roster to survive a season, and to help a San Diego Padres team.
 
A franchise with a history of greatness in the bullpen, whether it is Trevor Hoffman, or Huston Street, or this year’s edition, Craig Kimbrel, need setup guys.  Innings eaters.  No fear guys.  Tough people personalities.
 
As good as the Padres have been at developing closers, equally important are the setup guys, those you need in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings.
 
Shawn Kelley is one of those guys, not asked to save a game right now, but rather save an inning to keep it close, stop the bleeding, get the team to the 8th and 9th inning guys.
 
Kelley has fought back from two elbow transplant surgeries to get back to the majors.  He pitched in Seattle, then was dealt to the Yankees.  He thought he found a home, even signed a contract extension in New York last winter..
 
Then he was traded to the Padres, out of the clear blue sky.  It was a shock, it was a culture change.
 
“San Diego is so laid back, alot less media, but the self induced pressure is the same.  You pitch for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.
 
Kelley fought thru a couple of tough outings early in the season, did a short stint on the DL, but has found himself now.
 
“You have to be focused, in this  role.  Good teams have lots of people who do good things”.  “I’m wired to be always ready regardless of what role it is”.
 
Kelley knows about pressure, that is what New York is all about.
 
“It’s different.there, the fans are uptight, the media is always there, everyone is passionate, people expect excellence.  You need a thick skin in New York, you just can’t let it get to you”
 
Kelley looks around the clubhouse and sees guys who have been in pennant races and World Series, and knows he’d like to be there too.
 
“They call it the Bronx Zoo, I wish I could have experienced a World Series run in that city, the media, A-Rod, Jeter’s farewell tour and all:”
 
He laughs about the Padres clubhouse, one newspaper town, a few TV cameras, a couple of radio guys.  “You come in here and there’s a USA Today on the table.  You come into New York, and there are 50-papers laying around, and guys reading what has been written:
 
Kelley is part of a setup group that involves Dale Thayer, Brendon Mauer, Kevin Quackenbush and Joaquin Benoit, a pretty good group finding itself right now.
 
He’s also been impressed with what he has seen from Bud Black and Darren Balsley.
 
“Great reputations, great comittment.  It’s something to have a manager who has been there and understands pitching.  Balsley loves with videos.  He knew me one week and picked up a mechanical flaw and fixed it, and we were just one week into spring training.
 
Kelley comes off as a positive guy, with a short memory.  “Have a bad outing, park it, forget it, get on with the next outing.  You have to put it behind you”.
 
Kelly has for the most part.  The Padres need his mind-set, his fire, and his competitive nature, not just with Kelley, but the entire  bullpen brigade of seetup men.
 
Look for Kelley in the 6th inning.  He hopes to hand the ball off to the 7th inning guy with the scoreboard reading the same as when he got the ball.

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