GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Since his debut in the Majors in 2010, Reds pitcher Sam LeCure has gone from being a fifth starter to a long reliever to a valued and versatile jack of all trades out of the bullpen.
LeCure, 28, wouldn't have it any other way.
"What I didn't like about starting was all that time that you get to think about what you're going to try to accomplish," LeCure said on Sunday. "Now in the bullpen, I have to be ready at any time. You never know when I'm going to go in. That's exciting for me."
In what was essentially a bullpen day for the Reds staff vs. the Indians, LeCure started and worked two scoreless innings with one hit and one strikeout.
Last season in 48 games, LeCure was 3-3 with a 3.14 ERA, 23 walks and 61 strikeouts over 57 1/3 innings. Of the 31 runners he inherited, 26 were stranded. He had a 1.93 ERA over his final 13 appearances. Twenty of his outings were more than one inning and 12 were at least two. He saw action at least once in every inning from the fourth through ninth, plus some in extras.
Reds manager Dusty Baker places high value on having the right-handed LeCure at his disposal.
"Sam is kind of like my utility pitcher," Baker said. "He can start. He can go long relief. He can go short relief. He can get you out of trouble, like he's done many times. He knows how to pitch. He has a great attitude. He loves to compete. He's not scared or intimidated by anybody or any situation where I call upon him. He's the kind of guy where you see his stuff and it's OK. He pitched his way into your heart and your confidence."
LeCure demonstrated his readiness on a moment's notice in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. After starter Johnny Cueto was injured eight pitches into the game vs. the Giants, LeCure stepped in and worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings to be awarded the victory.
"With me being able to do a number of things, hopefully it will give me some more opportunities and help the club out," LeCure said.