WHAT’S A DUCKWORTH?

     I guess I’m still a little “old school” and the title of todays’ entry sounded a little like an old Groucho Marx joke and it made me chuckle a little bit.  Anyway, if you’re a baseball fan, you know the worth of Brandon Duckworth, the right handed pitcher in his second year with the PawSox.  “Duck” is  4-0 a a starter and a bullpen guy for the first place Pawtucket club.  Currently in the starting rotation, he has proven his worth time and time again in the last season and a quarter.  Brandons’ last win was the 100th of his minor league career.   When asked about the milestone, he laughed.  “It means I’ve been playing an awful long time.  You can look at it in a number of different ways.  It’s really cool to have that many decisions and wins,but at the same time, you wish they were up in the Major Leagues.  But, ya know, this is my fifteenth season and that says a lot. ”   Duckworth hasn’t taken his longevity for granted.  “It goes by so fast.  You don’t realize it until you’re into it for ten plus years.  It just keeps getting faster and faster each and every year”.

     Duckworth admits that time can take its’ toll on a man.  Preparing for games isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago.  “Oh, it’s different.  I’ve learned my body.  You know what your body needs, day in and day out, over the course of time.  As you do get older, you learn what you need.  You may not throw as much in certain situations, like sidework, the things you need to do in order to stay on top of your game.”

     Brandon also has 23 Major League wins under his belt, with Philadelphia, Houston and the Royals.  He has spent parts of 8 seasons in the Bigs, appearing in 134 games.  Still, he has the desire for more.  “It’s been a dream come true.  Any kid that picks up a bat and ball, it’s an aspiration that everyone has.  To be able to do that, play in the Big Leagues for the over 8 years I’ve been there…you just kind of pinch yourself.  I may not have been there all 15 years, but at the same time, I have a good amount of time in at the Big League level.  You just have to take that with a lot of pride.” 

     With the amount of experience he has, there comes a certain amount of wisdom, as well.  Whether he’s starting, or coming out of the pen, he’s ready.  “I’ve had a lot of experience doing both.  During some of my time in the  Majors, I had to do that.  I’d spot start, come out of the pen, fill multiple roles.  You just learn how much you need to throw and really, how much you don’t need to throw, if that makes sense.  That’s where the mental portion  of the game comes into play.  That’s the biggest key for me,learning over time and knowing how to implement it every day.”

     We have all sat back and watched with horror, the starting pitching of the Boston Red Sox.  Duckworth feels he could contribute as he continues to bide his time in Pawtucket.  “You’ve got to look at it in multiple ways.  You’ve got a lot of guys, young guys that are going to be their core guys for years to come.  You have contracts that  you have to deal with and you also have to look at roster spots and what they can and can’t do.  If there’s a need, they’ll make a move.  It’s my job to be ready.  You’ve just got to keep driving.  You can’t look at it in a negative way.  If you do, the only thing that suffers, is your own game.”

     In my mind, Duckworth has assumed the role of “leader of the staff”. That’s a role filled in the last couple of years by guys like Scott Atchison and Chad Paronto.  Duckworth doesn’t back down from his responsibility to the game.  “We’ve got a lot of good young arms.  It’s a matter of going out there and learning new things.  I’ll relate my own experiences to the younger guys.  I ask them a lot of questions, like what they’re thinking in certain situations.  I try to pass on information to them, like it was passed on to me.”

     Here’s hoping that all our guys some day have at least 123 professional victories each.

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