Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Alsup dumps truck, jumps bus
Pitcher's decision to join Goldeyes made in a hurry
Wes ALSUP brought his arm to Winnipeg, and a bag crammed with stuff, but his truck is still sitting in a buddy's backyard in Fort Worth, Texas.
That's where the pitcher dropped it off, after Goldeyes manage Rick Forney sold him on the idea of joining the team right in the swing of their season-opening road trip. And that's where it will stay, 2,000 kilometres away, so long as its owner has a chance to play.
"They're OK with it," grinned Alsup, 26, who signed on to the Goldeyes while the team was playing in Grand Prairie, Texas.
It was a bit of a whirlwind, that first day with the club. Alsup had flirted with the Fish before, when he was released from the Seattle Mariners' spring camp this year, but decided to look for pitching work in Texas instead. That came up short, so when Forney came calling again, Alsup jumped on board with the Goldeyes -- literally, even.
That day, he drove from Houston to Grand Prairie, and threw with the team in practice there. He told them he'd be back in three hours.
"I just dropped off my truck in my friend's backyard, got a ride to the field, and jumped on," Alsup said. "It was really quick. I guess I was prepared, but I wasn't expecting to actually get on the bus, so that was a little different."
The truck isn't the only thing Alsup left down south -- his fianc©e is a nursing student at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, and the distance hurts. But these are the choices you make, to chase a dream.
"The sacrifice there is relationships, and family," he said. "In a way, the team becomes your family. Having a great group of guys, like we have in the clubhouse now, it makes it easier."
Now, Alsup must throw to prove the sacrifice has been worth it. There's no doubt he has the talent -- in his first inning of relief with the Goldeyes, on May 22 in Amarillo, he struck out three batters. In Lincoln four days later, he struck out three and gave up only one base hit.
But there are challenges for the pitcher, too. On Wednesday afternoon in Winnipeg, Alsup took the mound in the 11th inning of an 8-8 tie against the Laredo Lemurs, and the Goldeyes' hopes fell apart on his watch: Two walks, three hits and five runs put the game away for Laredo.
"It was maybe the worst game I've had in my career," Alsup said on Friday, noting that consistency has been his biggest stumbling block. "It was tough. But it happens, and the great thing about baseball is you can always get out there the next day and be ready to play."
That readiness is what Forney needs to see from his most recent addition. For the record, Forney needs Alsup, or a pitcher like him: Although Alsup has played in 95 pro games since starting his career in 2010 with the Joliet Jackhammers of the defunct Northern League, he is still classified as a rookie under American Association rules. And the Goldeyes must have four rookies on the roster.
While the Fish boss sees Alsup's potential, he's also noted the inconsistencies.
"He's got a talented arm, you know, but you've got to throw it over the dish with a little more efficiency to be successful," Forney said, sitting in his office on Friday's drizzling afternoon. "Hopefully we can get him on track here soon."
This is a goal that Alsup shares. He's battled to get here, including a two-year rehab from Tommy John surgery while in college, and hopes to push his way back to affiliated ball. He knows that dream now rests on his arm, and so it could go either way -- but he is also a man of faith, and so he counts his blessings, pitches and prays.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 1, 2013 C2
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