EUGENE, Ore. — For the past two seasons, “Wild Thing” Jimmie Sherfy shut the door on Duck opponents.
But in 2014, Oregon baseball will turn to a new closer, Jake Reed.
“He’s not afraid to be the guy with the microphone,” head coach George Horton said of Reed.
One small caveat – Reed has only pitched in relief once, two summers ago while playing for Team USA.
And he’s never closed.
“I’m so anxious to get that feeling of what it’s going to be like to be out on the mound in the ninth inning in a one-run game,” Reed said. “The amount of adrenaline I’ll have is going to be through the roof.”
That adrenaline is a bit unpredictable now, but it’s a good thing for the Ducks if the fall is any indication of how Reed will handle his new role.
“Jake’s looked really good this fall coming in for one inning,” second baseman Aaron Payne said. “He’s been shutting us down a lot.”
Reed’s productive fall is a result of a different regiment this offseason. He took the summer off from baseball completely and focused on strength training, adding 20 pounds to his frame.
In the fall, he tweaked his mechanics, slightly raising his arm angle.
But there’s another big factor to consider.
“Now that I’m older and that I’ve been here for a couple years I know everything there is to know about our bunt defense and those kinds of things,” Reed said. “Now it’s more about just pitching.”
But pitching in the ninth inning of a tight game can be a whole different world, one that Reed’s never experienced. But it’s one that Jimmie Sherfy, one of Reed’s best friends, thrived in.
“He trusted his stuff and trusted his abilities to get anybody out,” Reed said of Sherfy. “That was the biggest thing I took from him.”
Now Reed will be taking the ball from Horton, who’s not naive in thinking Reed’s evolution as a closer will come without growing pains.
“Jake might occasionally be a little borderline wild,” Horton said. “It’s not going to be a perfect Mariano Rivera 1,2,3 unscathed inning. Jake might have to dodge some bullets, but he’s pretty good at dodging bullets.”
While Reed can be wild, there won’t be any mistaking him as the “Wild Thing”.
As for Reed’s walkout song…
“I’m not sure yet,” Reed said. “It has to be spot on.”
Now Reed has to be spot on in save situations.