|Badenhop still going strong, now with Red Sox (2-13-14)|
|Written by By JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 13 February 2014 09:46|
A decade ago, Burke Badenhop was a 21-year-old at Bowling Green State University, worrying about all the things college athletes worry about.
Now Badenhop, who turned 31 earlier this month, is a family man as he and his wife Sara are the parents of a baby girl, Emily, born last Oct. 21. He’s also a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, the defending World Series champion.
‘‘It’s changed things at home,’’ Badenhop said in a phone interview earlier this week about being a new father. ‘‘We’ve enjoyed being parents, but it’s another thing that makes you feel that much older. While baseball used to be goal No. 1, family is really up there now; they are the most important thing in my life.’
In addition to becoming a parent, the Perrysburg High School graduate is making a change in his professional career.
A 19th-round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers after finishing his college career in 2005, Badenhop is in spring training with his fourth Major League Baseball team — the Red Sox. It’s his third different team in the last three years.
‘‘To think what I was doing on my 21st birthday, if you would have told me 10 years later I’d be playing for the Boston Red Sox on a Major League contract, going into the seventh year in the big leagues, I would have told you, you were out of your mind,’’ Badenhop said. ‘‘I’ve had a lot of opportunities. I just hope I can capitalize on this one, too.’’
Badenhop is in Fort Myers, Fla. getting ready for his ninth spring training and his 10th professional season overall.
‘‘It’s always awkward when you bring the previous team that you were on, baseball bag full of stuff onto your new team,’’ Badenhop said. ‘‘You try to shuffle it in there and out pretty quick.’’
Badenhop is back with Andrew Miller, also a former Detroit Tiger. Badenhop and Miller were two of the players traded by Detroit to Marlins for Miguel Cabrera.
Miller had told Badenhop the Red Sox wanted to acquire him during the 2013 season, but the deal was not completed until after the season ended.
‘‘That’s not what you really wanted to hear after the team goes on to win the World Series,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s nice to be wanted,’’ Badenhop added. ‘‘I’m just very lucky to be playing baseball.’’
Badenhop will be the long reliever in a stacked Red Sox bullpen. Over the last four seasons, he’s averaged 58 appearances per year.
The Boston bullpen includes Koji Uehara, Edward Mujica, and Junichi Tazawa.
‘‘I don’t think they expect anything more than I have done in the past,’’ Badenhop said about his role. ‘‘But I expect a little more out of myself which is good.
‘‘I’m wanted because I throw strikes. I’m wanted because I can keep the ball on the ground, and I’m wanted because I’m pretty tough against right-handed hitters at times.’’
Over 63 appearances last year with Milwaukee, Badenhop posted a career-low 1.187 WHIP. Right-handers hit him at just a .229 clip and he had a 2.05 ERA over his last 21 appearances of the season.
For his career Badenhop is 18-20 with three saves and a 3.98 earned run average. Over 280 appearances — 10 starts, none since 2009 — Badenhop has struck out 274 batters and walked just 114 over 375 1/3 innings. Badenhop said his best year in the majors in 2009 with the Marlins when he was 7-4 with a 3.75 earned run average in 35 appearances.
With the Red Sox, Badenhop will have the Green Monster, the left field wall at Fenway Park, at his back.
‘‘That’s a tough one ... But our hitters have it too,’’ Badenhop said. ‘‘Milwaukee wasn’t an easy ball park to pitch in either. While there is no Green Monster, really except for the dead center field (in Milwaukee), that field played pretty short, too.
‘‘If I keep the ball on the ground, it won’t go over the fence if it hits the ground first.’’
Badenhop avoided arbitration by signing a one-year contract for $2.15 million.
‘‘It’s a very fair number, and I’m very happy,’’ Badenhop said.
He will be eligible for free agency after this season.
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