Red Sox to Honour Strecker

by Brantford Expositor

Originally appeared in Brantford Expositor June 27, 2018 by Brian Smiley

Brantford Red Sox fans will get a chance to applaud Stefan Strecker's career on Friday when the pitcher is honoured by the Intercounty Baseball League club.

Prior to the start of the 8 p.m. game against the Kitchener Panthers at Arnold Anderson Stadium, Strecker will receive a commemorative gold bat and will throw out the first pitch to recognize his inclusion in the IBL's top-100 all-time team.

"It's an honour and it's classy on the Pomerleaus' part to do something," Strecker said of the plans made by team owners Rick and Connie Pomerleau.

"They don't have to. The league already had a banquet. This is an added bonus, to be honest."

It would be hard to find dirt on the field at Arnold Anderson Stadium that has been around longer than Strecker.

Starting in 2001, the right-handed pitcher has been a stalwart for the Sox, mostly out of the bullpen. He is the IBL's all-time leader in pitching appearances, a six-time league champion and two-time playoff most valuable player.

At 38 years of age, things were a little rough at the beginning of this season.

"I wasn't getting the results I wanted at the start and now the results seem to be more favourable," he said.

Strecker said it took extra time for his arm to get in game shape.

A long-time closer, Strecker has moved back to eighth-inning duty, welcoming newcomer Tyler Gillies into his old role.

"He's done a great job," he said of Gillies. "He's got a really strong arm. He seems to be doing quite well in that role.

"For me, at this stage in my career - start, relieve, close - whatever helps us win is the only thing that matters."

Strecker did have a start earlier this season - his first in more than a decade.

With the team's scheduled starter unable to go, manager Wayne Forman called on his former teammate to jump onto the mound in the first inning on June 10 against London.

Although he pitched the day before, Strecker didn't hesitate.

"I said, 'Yeah, I'll give you what I've got'."

In 3.2 innings of work, Strecker allowed three hits and three walks, while striking out two. No runs crossed the plate while he was on the mound in an eventual 6-0 victory for Brantford.

Now with nine games under his belt this season and 10.1 innings, Strecker has allowed five runs (four earned) on 14 hits with nine strikeouts and five walks. He owns a 3.48 ERA, second only to Gillies (2.79) among pitchers on the team who have appeared in five or more games.

As for his new eighth-inning role, he's not changing his approach.

"I have the same mentality - just get three outs," he said.

"That's it, to be honest because that's all your job is. Whether it's the eighth inning, ninth inning or you're starting, you're just trying to get three outs in an inning."

Although some Major League Baseball teams are now going to relievers at the beginning of the game, Strecker said he not a fan of the trend.

"I know Tampa Bay is doing it and other teams have done it," he said. "I understand the thinking behind it.

"I guess I'm old school in the sense that if you have solid starting pitching, you don't do that. You don't see the Washington Nationals or the L.A. Dodgers or the Houston Astros, you don't see them saying to (Justin) Verlander, 'You're going to come in in the second.'

"With our guys, we have such great starting pitching, they can go three times through the other team's lineup and still be successful."

With the team playing better as of late - the Red Sox are 6-9 after going 5-3 in their last eight games - Strecker said the chances of the team fighting for a championship are solid.

"There's a lot of talent there," he said.

"It's just a matter of guys becoming comfortable with each other and with themselves.

"The quality of the guys is unbelievable and the chemistry is fantastic. That goes a long way, especially in playoffs where you can't have the highs being too high and the lows being too low.

"It's been fun playing with these guys, showing them how to prepare for games and be ready when you're called upon."