Adkins specializes in patience

Adkins specializes in patience

SARASOTA, Fla. -- For any non-roster invitee, life is an uphill battle.

They're generally considered long shots to make a given team and put in the difficult position of having to clearly outperform the rest of the competition to do so. The competition may have roster and/or out-of-options status. With all he must overcome, pressure is part and parcel of the non-roster invitee in a Spring Training camp.

Then again, being a non-roster invitee is no big deal to Jon Adkins, a veteran right-hander trying to stick with the Reds.

After you've been the guy the White Sox acquired for Ray Durham and one of the guys the Mets acquired for Heath Bell and Royce Ring, what's non-roster status in the grand scheme of things?

"Anywhere you go, you want to perform and help the team win," Adkins said. "I don't think that's ever any different. The difference here is obviously, there's pressure here for me, but it's from myself. I grew up in West Virginia, and this is the team I watched my whole life. It would be really special to me to make this team."

Thus far, the 30-year-old hasn't done anything to undermine his chances. Through Friday, Adkins (1-0) hadn't allowed a run in three appearances.

"He's shown me that he can get out of trouble, because I've brought him in a couple of times when somebody else was in trouble," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "[He's] not afraid. He throws strikes, and has an idea what he wants to do and what he wants the hitters to do with the ball."

Adkins was selected by the A's in the ninth round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft. He spent the next seven years working his way through the Oakland system until he was traded to the White Sox for Durham and cash on July 25, 2002.

Adkins made 59 appearances for the White Sox over the next three years, going 2-4 with a 5.08 ERA. Let go by the White Sox, Adkins signed a free-agent contract with the Padres and paid immediate dividends in 2006, when he went 2-1 with a 3.98 ERA in 55 appearances.

The Padres sent Adkins and outfielder Ben Johnson to the Mets in November 2006 for Bell and Ring. With the exception of one appearance with the Mets, Adkins spent the entire 2007 season at Triple-A New Orleans.

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"Everything's working the way it should -- I feel better where I'm at right now in comparison to last year," Adkins said. "Last year, I know I had a pretty bad spring. I changed some things."

Thus far this spring, Adkins' fastball, slider and sinker are working like they did in 2006.

"With the exception of the changeup, I hadn't thrown it a whole lot in the Mets organization, and that was a pretty good pitch for me in San Diego in '06," Adkins said. "It helped me out with the left-handed hitters."

With the Padres, Adkins leaned on Trevor Hoffman for changeup advice. With the Reds, it's special instructor Mario Soto, who had perhaps the best changeup in baseball during his heyday as the Reds' ace back in the 1980s.

The next few weeks will tell if the lessons will rub off on Adkins enough to make his bid to join the Cincinnati bullpen a successful one.

"I just go out and pitch, and hopefully they see something they like and they'll want to keep me around a little longer," Adkins said. "[In] early Spring Training games, just because your results have been good doesn't mean it was a good outing. You're facing a lot of young [batters]. A lot of them don't have a plan, so it's a roll of the dice."

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.