Cederlind working for shot to be next Pirates closer

Righty spent most of last year in development camp

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Pirates reliever Blake Cederlind joked that getting out of hard work in the family business in California helped lead to being on the cusp of making a major league roster.

Cederlind’s family owned an almond farm and harvest time coincided with travel ball time.  So playing baseball was not only fun, but got him out of chores.

That has led to now, the 25-year-old has a legit opportunity to make the Pirates roster after a taste last year.  There is also the outside shot of being the team’s future closer.

“I’m not so much worried about a role right now,” Cederlind said.  “I’m just competing for a job.  I have both of my pitches honed in for this year.  Going to put them to the test and leave the decisions to the decision-makers.”

“I think we saw him grow last year in terms of throwing the ball on the plate and not getting frustrated,” said manager Derek Shelton.  “That’s it for any young pitcher.  All we need for him to know is put the ball on the plate, throw strikes.  If they beat you because you are throwing strikes.  That’s fine.”

“Don’t put him in a position where he is beating himself by putting guys on base.  That’s the message.  It’s a consistent message for a lot of young kids, but with his stuff and the velocity.  It’s extremely important.”

Cederlind believes he’s fixed some mechanical issues from earlier in his minor-league career and throws more strikes now.  He still considers himself a power pitcher, noting he can throw 100 mph; but has worked on getting more vertical and horizontal break on the slider.  He believes that work will make it easier to put guys away this year.

If he were to get that opportunity, how different would it be closing games in the majors compared to the minors?

“There is no real difference,” Cederlind said.  “Just keeping the same mentality that I had in the minor leagues.  Bringing it into big league games as well.  It’s the same game.  Just different environment.”