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Weathers closing in on pitching milestone

Weathers closing in on pitching milestone

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MIAMI -- The next time David Weathers pitches in a game for the Reds, his name will be linked with that of the immortal Cy Young in baseball lore. Weathers' 906th appearance in a Major League game will tie Young for 19th place on the all-time list.

Even Weathers found that somewhat improbable as several media quizzed him Tuesday about his newfound fame.

"Yeah, it's weird," he said of having his name attached to that of Young, a Hall of Famer who has an award in his name given to the best pitcher in each league every season.

Young won 511 games, the most in Major League history. Weathers has 69. "I got a better chance of catching Nolan Ryan in strikeouts," the right-hander said with a grin of Ryan, baseball's career strikeout leader.

Weathers, who will be 40 on Sept. 25, realizes this is simply a recognition of his longevity in the game. He appeared in his first Major League game in 1991, 19 seasons ago and has played for seven Major League teams.

Amazingly during all those times, through the highs and the lows, whether starting and relieving, he doesn't recall ever having any significant arm trouble.

"Lot of head trouble, though," he said, smiling.

His days as a starter effectively ended in 1997, except for two cameos in 2004 with Florida, and he really picked up momentum as a reliever since he was traded to Cincinnati five seasons ago.

He came into this season averaging 70.5 appearances a season in his first four years as a Red. And he's appeared in nine games this season heading into Tuesday night's series finale against the Marlins.

From what the Reds have seen of him this season, he doesn't appear to be slowing down. In eight innings over nine games, he has yet to allow a run. He's yielded three hits and three walks.

"I work hard every time to stay in shape, do a lot of things to keep my arm healthy, but I'll tell you, I've been tremendously blessed," he said. "I don't know any other way of putting it. I'm sure there's a lot of guys who've done a lot more than me to keep their arm in shape and had surgery after surgery. So a lot of it is the Good Lord has just blessed me."

Weathers said a lot of players are tempted to retire after a significant career, tired of the grind and all the physical demands that playing entails, and drawn by the lure of having more time with their families.

"All these years later, here I still am," he said.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said Weathers is an example for the team's younger pitchers on how to craft a Major League career.

"He's about control, movement and savvy," Baker said. "And when the day comes that he's finished, nobody has to tell him, because he knows when he has no gas left in his tank."

After a short pause, Baker added, "Right now, he's got quite a bit of gas in that tank."

Even with the self-deprecating jokes Tuesday, one could tell Weathers appreciated the name association with Cy Young. It's one benefit of his longevity that he didn't expect.

"I'm not one of these guys to say, 'I'm humbled,'" he said. "I've always been humbled being able to put a [Major League] uniform on. Being from a small town, I've always been appreciative of my good fortune. But I think something like this shows me that longevity still counts for something."

Charles Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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