It has been a long wait for Reds prospect and Oak Hills grad Joel Bender, who had elbow surgery last February. Bender is expecting to return to live action. He is also expecting a new role that has nothing to do with baseball. Bender and Trina are expecting the birth of their first child on Friday. Bender will take on a new role as father and backup diaper changer. He will have to come in in relief in the wee hours of the morning.
He has thrown three live batting practice sessions in extended spring in Goodyear, Arizona. Bender, who is on the Reds’ Double A roster at Pensacola, is expected to start pitching in minor league games the following Friday.
“I feel good,” Bender said. “My velocity is the same as it was before. I have the same curveball. I have been working on change up.with James Baldwin (rehabilitation pitching coach). I am a reliever and you only need two pitches but the change up gives me another pitch to use. I learned that at Triple A they don’t chase pitches out of the strike zone like the younger hitters do.”
Bender, 26, was taken in the 27th round out of Oak Hills in the 2010 draft. This is his seventh season iin the Reds’ system. He is 21-14 with a 4.33 ERA in 156 minor league games. The left-handed Bender, last pitched in 2015. He made stops at Daytona, Pensacola and Louisville, working in 47 games, including a start at Louisville. Bender pitched in four games for the Bats in which he allowed one run in 10 1/3 innings. Altogether, he had a 4-2 record with a 3.61 ERA in 82 1/3 innings. Bender walked 27 and struck out 72.
Bender learned the new pitch but now has to learn how to change a diaper.
He was coached to put the diaper in the shape of a baseball diamond. He holds a conference with the secondbaseman or shortstop meeting the catcher on the mound, folding second base of the diaper to home plate. He puts the baby on the pitcher’s mound. Then calls in the infield to discuss a bunt play and pins the diaper.