by Kevin Oklobzija Democrat and Chronicle
AUBURN – Game time is fast approaching and Tim Redding is standing just off the bullpen mound, analyzing every aspect of every pitch that Reynaldo Lopez zips into the catcher's mitt.
The wind-up, the arm motion, where the plant foot lands, the movement of the ball. Over and over. He doesn't say a whole lot.
In the short-season Class A New York-Penn League, the pitching coach isn't instructed to recreate the pitcher. His job is to instill the organization's basic pitching tenets, point out mechanical flaws, and guide the prospects. So Redding is observing.
An hour or so earlier, Redding admitted this scenario of staying in the game after his playing career ended was something he couldn't envision.
"I never thought I was coaching material," said Redding, who growing up called neighborhoods in North Chili and Riga home and caught the eye of scouts at Churchville-Chili High School and then Monroe Community College.
Indeed, he was the guy way back when, who, if an opponent hit his 95 mph fastball 410 feet, would rear back and try to throw the fastball even harder the next time. It didn't matter if the catcher —and pitching coach — suggested a changeup.
So who better for young on-the-rise pitchers to take advice from than a guy who has 17 professional seasons of been-there/done-that on his resume.
That's exactly what Redding figured when he pursued the job. And what the Washington Nationals figured when they hired him as pitching coach for the Auburn Doubledays.
Thus, Redding is starting over where he started it all — in the Cayuga County city of Auburn, at Falcon Park.
As a first-year pitcher in the Houston Astros organization, Redding called a much-more rickety clubhouse home for the summer of 1998. He thrived, too. He went 7-3 with a 4.52 earned-run average. Flirting to hit the 100 mph barrier with his fastball, he struck out 98 in 73 2/3 innings.