PITTSBURGH — As his offseason as a free agent stretched through all of the abbreviated Spring Training without a signing, veteran left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler contemplated retiring.
But on Opening Day, Detwiler signed a Minor League contract with the Reds. Then, on Saturday, the 36-year-old had his contract selected from Triple-A Louisville. To make room on the roster, right-handed reliever Robert Dugger was designated for assignment.
“There’s more in the tank. You don’t want to sit back and say, ‘What if?’ later on down the road,” Detwiler said. “Once you shut it down, I’m 36. There’s no coming back. This year, the ball is coming out of my hand really well. I developed a cutter last year and started messing around with a changeup the week before I signed here.”
Detwiler made his Reds debut on Saturday vs. the Pirates, pitching a scoreless sixth inning with a walk and two strikeouts in Cincinnati’s 3-1 loss at PNC Park.
In seven appearances for Louisville, Detwiler recorded a 3.86 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP over seven innings. He walked five and struck out seven. In 53 games last season for the Marlins and Padres, he posted a 4.64 ERA.
“It’s amazing. I never realized how much Spring Training actually mattered until I missed it this year,” Detwiler said. “The first couple of games, just tried to get the feeling back. Then I was attacking hitters again and trying to get back to the feeling I had at the end of last year.”
With Justin Wilson on the injured list and Phillip Diehl designated for assignment on Monday, the Reds had been without a lefty in their bullpen. Teams tried to exploit it during the past week, none more than the Pirates, who started eight players batting from the left side against right-handed starter Connor Overton on Thursday.
Over his career, lefties are batting .236 vs. Detwiler compared to .295 with right-handed batters. He was primarily a starter for the first half of his 13-year career before moving to a bullpen role, though he made five starts in 2021 for Miami.
“He’s not going to be a long guy or anything like that,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He’ll definitely pitch an inning or two. He definitely has the experience. He’s done it before, that’s for sure.”
The Reds are the 10th big league club with whom Detwiler has pitched.