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Keeping with yesterday’s motif, here’s a little diddy I wrote about Eddie Kunz in August of 2007…enjoy!
When reliever Eddie Kunz is on the mound for the Cyclones, itâ€™s easy to see the beads of sweat drip down his face while the crowd cheers his name and the hitter wonders what pitch heâ€™s going to get.
Hell, even a small part of Kunz probably has trouble deciding.
Will it be the slider thatâ€™ll dance through the strike zone a split second after it leaves his hand, or will it be the changeup thatâ€™ll put the poor hitter into the ground like heâ€™s attached to a screwdriver? Or worse yet, will it be the fastball that will sting his hands like a bee if he manages to make contact?
While this chess game goes on inside the hitterâ€™s mind, Kunz doesnâ€™t hear the sound of the crowd. All he sees is his target.
Since making his professional debut with the â€˜Clones on August 4, Kunz has four saves in eight games. with his opponents hitting .222 against him, proving he hits his target more times than he misses.
â€œThis place [Keyspan Park] is really high energy, but I donâ€™t hear anything when Iâ€™m out on the mound, Iâ€™m just in the zone and focused,â€ said Kunz. â€œThe last time I was out and I got the save, people were cheering my name and I had no idea until my parents called me up and told me they heard it on the radio.â€
The Mets first pick in this yearâ€™s draft, Kunz has had some bumps in the road this season, giving up six runs in two outings against Aberdeen and Vermont, the main reason why his ERA is an unusually high 8.59. However, in his six other appearances this season, he hasnâ€™t given up a run and has shown the confidence and unbridled determination a good closer needs in order to be successful.
â€œI knew I had some good stuff, but I didnâ€™t know how good I was until I faced a couple of batters,â€ said Kunz, who has six strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work this season. â€œNow that Iâ€™ve done that and I see how much success Iâ€™ve been having, Iâ€™ve been trying to build on that success every time I go out there. By doing that, I think Iâ€™ve proven to myself and the organization that I do more than hold my own at this level and that Iâ€™ll be ready for hitters at higher levels when they decide to move me up.â€
With all of the competition in the â€˜Clones pen this season, Kunz was originally expected to share closing duties with Brant Rustich, Dan McDonald and Stephen Clyne, but after dominant performances against Mahoning Valley and Auburn, Kunz looks to have taken sole position of Brooklyn closers gig for the time being. Nevertheless, Kunz believes that while he would prefer to stay as the teamâ€™s main closer, he’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win.
â€œI was a little scared at first,â€ said Kunz. â€œThere are four of us in the pen that can come out and close at any time. Iâ€™m just really happy that Iâ€™ve gotten a chance to show my ability and prove that I can hold down the closer role if they need me to. In all honesty, I donâ€™t feel that any of us are any better than another, it just depends on what the coaches want to see.â€
Feeling that the coaching staff in the end will play the biggest part in his success, Kunz, who compares himself to Eric Gagne, is grateful for getting so much playing time after taking six weeks to iron out his contract and get his professional career started.
â€œIâ€™ve been pitching really well lately because the coaching staff has been giving me an opportunity to throw and Iâ€™ve been making the most of it,â€ said Kunz. â€œIâ€™ve been handling the closing duties really well and all of my pitches are really working. Iâ€™m hitting my spots really well with my fastball, changeup and slider right now, but Iâ€™m just really happy to be here and making the most out of the opportunity the organization has given me.â€
Photo by Patrick Hickey Jr.