Baseball

Crystal Lake Central grad Connor Sadzeck 'excited' for opportunity with Seattle Mariners

Crystal Lake Central graduate in Chicago this weekend to face White Sox

CHICAGO – Connor Sadzeck just experienced perhaps the craziest week in his 27-plus years.

The 2010 Crystal Lake Central graduate was designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers, an organization he had been with for nine seasons. But before Sadzeck was placed on waivers, the Seattle Mariners traded for the hard-throwing right-hander.

Instead of going to the minor leagues, and being removed from the Rangers’ 40-man roster, Sadzeck headed to a new organization as a relief pitcher. He is in Chicago this weekend as the Mariners face the White Sox in a three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The White Sox won the series’ opening game, 10-8, on Friday. Sadzeck, who now wears No. 54, did not pitch in the game.

“It was a long week,” Sadzeck said. “I was kind of hanging out in Arlington the last week. I’m really excited to be here. It’s awesome for this opportunity. These guys look like they’re having a ton of fun. It shows in the amount of wins this team has. I’m so excited for the opportunity to be a part of this
ballclub.”

It may take Sadzeck some time to adjust to his new surroundings with Major League Baseball’s winningest team at 7-2.

“For the most part, it’s all new faces,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest hump to get over, kind of learning the philosophies. I’ve been with the same organization for nine years. You have to switch some of those ways of thinking, but I’m open to it. I’m excited for the opportunity to go down a different path.”

Sadzeck’s parents, Steve and Pam, moved from Crystal Lake to Oklahoma City, which worked out well when he finished last season with the Rangers. He hopes his grandparents – Don Sadzeck and Ray and Nancy Feffer from the Crystal Lake area – will be able to come see him on the South Side this weekend.

Former Central coach Dan Badgley is going to Saturday’s game, a 1:10 p.m. start, with his family. Some of Sadzeck’s other high school friends also are going Saturday.

Sadzeck found out March 27 he would not be on the Rangers’ roster. His fiancee, Kendra Birtcher, a physician’s assistant, came in from their home in New Mexico. Steve and Pam came from Oklahoma City.

Sadzeck stayed at an Airbnb and played catch with his older brother, Gannon, while waiting things out. The Rangers told him he would be traded, and the deal was finalized Monday with the Mariners sending minor league pitcher Grant Anderson to Texas.

Sadzeck packed his baseball bag and a couple of clothing bags and flew to Seattle on Tuesday night. His truck, sitting packed with his other possessions, will be shipped sometime from Texas. He had to buy a sport jacket to meet the Mariners’ travel dress rules.

Mariners pitching coach Paul Davis watched Sadzeck throw a bullpen session Wednesday and hopes to see him soon in game action.

“Our front office had identified him as a guy that they liked,” Davis said. “That’s why we acquired him. He has a big arm and a good slider. We think his slider is really good. We’ll probably throw a few more sliders.”

Sadzeck (6-foot-7, 240 pounds) threw his fastball at 97 mph and his slider at 89 last season in 91/3 innings with the Rangers. His velocity was what caught scouts’ attention out of high school.

Sadzeck was taken in MLB’s First-Year Player Draft in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he pitched one season at Howard College, a two-year school in Big Spring, Texas. In 2011, the Rangers selected him in the 11th round.

Last season, he pitched in 13 games, allowed one earned run, struck out seven and walked 11. In eight Cactus League appearances this spring, Sadzeck threw 81/3 innings and had a 7.56 ERA with eight walks, but his 11 strikeouts caught the eye of the Mariners.

When asked what the club liked about Sadzeck, Davis answered, “His slider. He has a lot of potential that hasn’t quite been tapped yet.”

Sadzeck agreed that his reputation is that of a power pitcher, but his breaking pitches are critical to his success.

“My fastball is kind of what I’m known for, but the secondary stuff kind of came around in September (last season),” Sadzeck said. “My slider really played up last year, and that’s kind of the game plan, to focus on that to complement my fastball. That way I don’t have to be as fine. I don’t have to feel as much pressure to throw the fastball where I need to throw it. The slider kind of opens that up to that.”

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