Pirates reliever Kyle Crick pitches constantly trying to prove himself
BRADENTON, Fla. — Kyle Crick returned to Pirate City this year with a chip on his shoulder, one that serves as motivation for the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to never allow himself to be comfortable or complacent.
The right-handed reliever admits to being ticked off he didn’t make the Pirates’ Opening Day roster last year after a strong spring, but it helped Crick prove himself with a strong season in the bullpen.
“I was salty, but I knew I wasn’t going to be down very long,” Crick said. “You have to have confidence in yourself before anybody else will.”
Crick came to the Pirates as part of the package from the San Francisco Giants in return for Andrew McCutchen, so being sent to Triple-A Indianapolis to start the season had him as mystified as it did miffed. While Crick never felt pressure to live up to the trade — he had spent one season in the majors compared to McCutchen being a five-time All-Star and former NL MVP — he realized there was only one way to control his course.
“You always come up with your own answers and whatnot,” Crick said, “but the only thing that matters is what you do on the mound.”
Crick did that by proving to the Pirates he is a dependable, high-leverage reliever. After being called up (along with Richard Rodriguez) in mid-April, Crick was 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA and 1.127 WHIP and two saves in 60 1/3 innings for one of baseball’s best bullpens.
“I think that’s half the battle, man,” Crick said. “You always know that you can do it, and you should always know that you can do it, but it’s really tough to get people on board unless they’ve seen you do it. After you go out and show some people what you can do, everyone has more confidence in you, so it’s easier to go about your work and breathe because people let you do your work once they’ve seen you have success.”
With Crick, Rodriguez, Edgar Santana, Keone Kela and All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez on the back end, the Pirates became adept at protecting leads. Now, no matter what inning he’s called upon, Crick believes he has proved to the Pirates they can count on him.
But Crick knows he has to prove himself over and over again.
“I’d like to think it’s not that much different because as a pitcher and a bullpen kind of guy, it’s a year-to-year thing,” Crick said. “It’s not something where you show up and you have a job. This is something you’ve got to go earn.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .