CLEARWATER, Fla.–In 2002, I rode the bus with Jim Ed Warden at high Class A Kinston. A sixth-round pick of the Indians in 2001, Warden made seven starts that year and had several trips to the phantom disabled list.
From my perspective, I knew more about Warden the movie critic or Warden the music freak and not Warden the pitcher. No one else seemed to care, so why should I?
And it’s not that I was so prospects-oriented that it didn’t matter–I’ve met WAY too many people in this game that I respect and have become good friends with who were never even considered “prospects.”
It was more like I thought to myself, “This guy has NO chance. He’s getting hammered on a regular basis . . .”
I distinctly remember one time when Warden returned to Kinston from a trip to low Class A Lake County, he told me he blew a game as a closer and the headline in the local paper the next day read: “Warden Opens The Gates.”
The guy was funny in my same vein–self-depricatingly so.
Anyway, so here is Jim Ed Warden in his own words . . . one of the best stories this spring even if he doesn’t stick with the Phillies after being a Rule 5 pick in December:
“Every time I went out and threw terrible I thought I was released. You always say, â€˜If I keep playing Iâ€™ll get another shot at the big leagues, but when youâ€™re 25 in the lower levels, you know in your heart youâ€™re not going to make it. Or at least you know the doorâ€™s closing on you.
“I havenâ€™t made it yet, but to be here now is awesome. You always expect to do wellâ€”I came in here thinking I could repeat what I did last year. But I mean, it was kind of unrealistic. What gave me confidence was (pitching coach) Rich Dubee telling me they werenâ€™t going to give up on me. I was putting entirely too much pressure on myself, which easily takes your confidence away.
“And itâ€™s kind of stupid, looking back, to think of it that way. Just because Iâ€™m on a big league mound facing a big league hitter . . . so what? That HAS to be youâ€™re mentalityâ€”otherwise, youâ€™re already done.”
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