Dennick shakes off nerves for perfect debut

Dennick shakes off nerves for perfect debut

BALTIMORE -- Despite having a nice season at Triple-A Louisville, lefty reliever Ryan Dennick wasn't exactly clearing his September in anticipation of a first big league callup when the Reds' roster expanded. After all, not only is Dennick not a young "can't-miss" prospect, the more practical issue was that he wasn't on the 40-man roster.

On Monday, Dennick got word that the Reds selected his contract.

"It means a lot. The hard work you've put in over the years, really getting overlooked at certain places, not really getting a chance," Dennick said.

Following a tough travel day on Tuesday that featured a weather delay, canceled flights and missed connections, he made his Major League debut and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning vs. the Orioles.

"It was quite a day," Dennick said on Wednesday. "I guess it's better to get in there right away and not wait around a few days and think about. Now it's over with and done and we can just go back to baseball."

In a 5-4 Reds loss, Dennick took over for Mat Latos in the sixth inning with his team already trailing, 5-0. His first-pitch fastball to Jimmy Paredes was fouled off. Paredes would ground out, followed by Caleb Joseph's strikeout and Ryan Flaherty's flyout to center field.

"It's a mix of a lot of nerves," said Dennick, who had his mother and girlfriend watching him pitch from the seats at Camden Yards. "I get nervous before a game anyway but really once you start throwing, it becomes a baseball game. I really wanted to get the first pitch out of the way. After that, just do what I did in Triple-A all year."

For Louisville, Dennick was 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA in 57 games. Lefty batters hit .209 against him and he had a 0.97 WHIP. Right-handers batted .253 with a 1.46 WHIP. Reds manager Bryan Price liked that Dennick fared well against hitters from both sides of the plate and the reports he read that put the 27-year-old on the radar.

"He was coming into a lot of tight games late and having success," Price said. "This is a guy that doesn't have a long, distinguished history as a relief pitcher. I believe last year he spent most of the year starting in Pensacola after coming over from Kansas City."

Dennick's path to the Majors has been lengthy after he was a 22nd-round Draft pick of the Royals in 2009. The Reds claimed him in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft after the 2012 season.

"Those guys, I really admire because that's what you want," Price said. "You want guys to be in your system that perform their way to the big leagues. They don't get to the big leagues because they're on the roster. They get their way to the big leagues because they've earned their way to the big leagues through performance.

"It is the ray of sunshine in a September where it's been relatively dark here the second half of our season. It's great. This game calluses the players and the staff and everyone involved so quickly, or it can. And it shouldn't. It should be a celebration of how hard it was to get here."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.