Ten days have passed since first arriving in Billings and by now everything has pretty much settled into place. I was fortunate enough to get hooked up with a host mother for my stay this summer and moved in last Sunday. I have the entire basement to myself, with my own bedroom and bathroom. Her house is also extremely close to a local bus transfer center, so finding a way to the ballpark everyday is no problem. All of our games between Monday and Saturday begin at 7:05 pm. Position-focused early work begins at 2:00 pm. My routine is to catch the bus heading downtown at 10:10 am, go to the library for an hour or so to use the internet, get some lunch at a nearby Denny’s, and show up to the clubhouse around 1:00 pm.

We opened the season on the road against Great Falls. The White Sox rookie affiliate has recently added many renovations to their stadium and clubhouse to create a very nice park (thanks revenue from the World Series championship). Our opening day starter was Ernie Del Rosario (“Rosy”) from the Dominican Republic. A solid outing by Rosy mixed with some timely hitting and some excellent defensive plays gave us a great win to start the season. Although we dropped a disappointing game on Wednesday, we were able to win the get-away game on Thursday to take the series. Tyler Rhoden, a pitcher from Vanderbilt University, gave us three impressive innings out of the pen, striking out five. Like I said before, all games during the week start at 7 pm, even the nights teams have to travel. With a four hours ride from Great Falls, we returned to Cobb Field around 2:45 am on a Friday morning in which we began a series against Missoula.

Thanks for the questions and comments this past week and a half. Someone asked what are the strongest and weakest areas of my game; here is my best attempt to answer:

– My strongest asset is the command of my fastball. Although I have hit numbers in the mid-90’s, I normally sit around 90-92 mph. However, I can normally work my fastball in and out pretty effectively. I also believe, with batters using wood now, my two-seam fastball is going to be a very successful pitch riding in on right-handed hitters.

– The weakest area of my pitching is the lack of a dominant off-speed pitch. My circle-change could definitely become a great pitch, but I never relied on it in the past. I throw a loopy 12-to-6 curve with shaky command. I need to improve the speed and consistency of that pitch. I am also trying to develop a split-finger to use mainly against lefties.

I am the scheduled relief pitcher on Monday against Great Falls at Cobb Field, just in case you are interested in following online. Thanks again for the support.

Go ‘stangs!

About The Author

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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19 Responses

  1. Ron

    Hey Matt,
    Thanks for answering my question! I’m going to fire another one at you. I was curious how the coaching staff decided to put together the rotation, position starters, and batting order? It didnt seem like they had much time with alot of you guys who were drafted and also the ones coming in from out of the country. Is it a work in progress or do they seem to have already predetermind what everyones roles were going to be? Thanks again and good luck tonight! Ron

  2. Matt


    When did you start pitching as a youth? Did you play Knothole? Did you play select ball? When did you know you had a real shot at playing D1 baseball?

  3. Bill

    Daedalus, you have to move to Billings..or to Cape Cod…

  4. Matt

    I was a ballplayer 25 years ago, I can come and live with you Daedalus.

  5. Matt

    I have to warn you I will be bringing my six kids with me.

  6. Matt B.

    Matt – do you prefer pitching in relief or starting?

  7. Chad

    Thanks for the update, Matt. Good luck tonight.

    If any of you want to follow the game log for tonight, here’s the link. Matt’s not in the game yet.

  8. DevilsAdvocate

    Still no Klinker after 7½ . . . but it’s quite the game. 1-0 (Billings) in the offense-heavy Pioneer League. The two Mustang pitchers have combined to allow just 1 hit in those 8 IP (though the starter Ravin walked 5 in 4 innings). Tough game to get your pro debut in, and as a closer at that. We’ll see if it happens.

  9. DevilsAdvocate

    No Klinker appearance tonight. The concept of scheduled relief pitcher is different for me, at least since the tandem starter system disappeared (or did it? Look at what Billings did tonight) and perhaps there’s more flexibility in the ‘schedule’ than the word implies.

  10. DevilsAdvocate

    Oh, but the Mustangs did win, 1-0. So, they’ve got that going for them.

  11. JinAZ

    Hi Matt,

    Great post.

    I’m curious as to what your impressions are of the level of competition in Billings compared to what you experienced in college? Does it seem comparable thus far, or does it feel like the competition is a bit stiffer?

  12. matt klinker

    Wow…again thanks for the feedback. As many have noticed, I didn’t get in the game. When I showed up yesterday, I was told some of the brass wanted to see Rhoden pitch again (possible promotion coming for him). He went 4 innings and did not allow a hit. He was working about 88-90 with a great change up and curve. I will answer the other questions in my next post. Maybe tonight is my night.
    matt k.

  13. matt klinker

    It was nice to finally get in last night. Harris Honeycutt and myself got our first professional appearances. Our skipper has been very cautious about how many innings we both threw in college this season. Post coming on Friday from Great Falls.
    matt k.

  14. Stephanie Halti

    Hey Matt! My husband was drafted into the Reds organization a couple of years ago, but was traded this January to the Royals – Russell Haltiwanger. Anyhow, small world… you and I actually went to Furman together (my maiden name is Chandler). Spence Gibbs, Russ and I all grew up together. This probably isn’t the best venue to say hello… but I keep up with all of our old Reds friends on here (most of which are now in Sarasota) and when I saw you were drafted I thought it would be terrible not to be sure and wish you all my best! The Reds organization was a blessing and we miss everyone so much. If there is anything we can do, let me know. God bless!