Roenicke realizes big league dream
Sitting in the bullpen at Miller Park Tuesday night, hearing the crowd crescendo into cheers so much louder than he’d ever heard as a ballplayer, Josh Roenicke had to pinch himself.
He wasn’t dreaming anymore. Now he was living the dream.
Roenicke, a 2001 Nevada Union graduate, was one of seven players in the Cincinnati Reds system to be called up the Major League level this week.
“It was sweet,” Roenicke said in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, after his Reds squeaked out a 5-4 extra inning win over host Milwaukee. “When the game went into extra innings, I was getting a little antsy.”
Roenicke, a right-handed reliever, did not take the mound in Tuesday’s matchup, nor did he see action Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Brewers. But sometime this month, the former Miner and UCLA standout will make his official Major League debut.
That could come as early as this weekend, when Roenicke and the Reds will travel to Phoenix for a three-game series with the Diamondbacks.
“That will be a lot of fun,” Roenicke said. “My family and some friends are going to be there.”
Members of the Roenicke family, of course, are not exactly newcomers to the big leagues.
Josh’s father, Gary, played in the Majors from 1976-88. He was a member of the 1983 World Series champion Baltimore Orioles. His uncle, Ron, had an eight-year career in the big leagues, playing for the Dodgers, Mariners, Padres, Giants, Phillies and Reds.
And Josh’s older brother, Jarrett, played in the San Diego Padres system in 2000-01, while younger brother, Jason, is currently in the Toronto Blue Jays system.
But baseball wasn’t always Josh’s focus. In fact, he said, the sport ranked third in his Nevada Union High School days, behind football and basketball. He walked on to the football team at UCLA as a quarterback and eventually switched to wide receiver.
Yet it was while he was in Westwood that Roenicke decided to give the national pastime another look. He split time as an outfielder and pitcher for the Bruins, before eventually realizing his right arm was his ticket to pro ball.
Roenicke rose through the Reds farm system in three seasons. After being selected in the 10th round of the 2006 MLB Draft, he spent the ’06 season playing in rookie ball before jumping from single-A to double-A last summer.
This year, after an impressive spring training performance that saw his fastball top out at 98 miles per hour, he was assigned to the double-A Chattanooga Lookouts before being promoted to the triple-A Louisville Bats. His combined stats from both minor league stops included a 2.80 ERA, a 6-2 record and 13 saves. He struck out 71 and walked 26 before being called up to the show.
“We had just finished our playoffs and I was also looking forward to the offseason, when they told me ‘You’re going up,'” Roenicke said. “I’m always confident. And I knew that if I could just focus on pitching, I could be successful.
“But now that they’re giving me the opportunity, I just have to make the best of it.”
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