Holding on to a dream can be difficult for some, because sometimes reality takes away the passion with other avenues.
Relief pitcher Redmond Floyd is in his first season with the first-place Tucson Saguaros and his fastball can reach up to 92 mph, which is heat considering he’s playing in the Pecos League, where the players live at a host family’s home. The right-handed Floyd is humbled by his time in the Old Pueblo and hailing from Baltimore, it hasn’t been easy to adjust.
The Saguaros have just started a long 15-game road trip and will take on the California City Whiptails on Thursday. The Arizona Daily Star talked to Floyd, who has a 0.78 ERA over 23 innings, about his background and journey to Tucson.
When did you realize that pitching was your niche?
A: “I was about 8 or 9 years old and I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just throwing the ball as fast as I could, but I had a pretty strong arm and threw faster than most kids.
“I pitched up until I was 12 and I was told, I didn’t throw hard enough so they wouldn’t let me pitch all the way up until my senior year of high school.”
Before joining the Pecos League, did you have any potential avenues in the MLB?
A: “At the end of my junior year at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, I received some attention from scouts, but then I put my work ethic into overdrive and I torn my right labrum in 2014. I’ve never dealt with anything like that before so I tried to play through it. After I played my senior season, I began rehabbing. This is my first stint back.”
How did you come across the Tucson Saguaros?
A: “The head coach Kirby Campbell was actually on the same Pine Bluff team as me in 2013 so after we stopped playing together, we started coaching together for Pine Bluff in 2015.
“When I called him, he asked me if I wanted to become a pitching coach and I told him that I wanted to play. So for the last day of tryouts, I pitched one inning and I reached 92 miles per hour. And this was after a 20-hour drive, so I did well and made the team.”
What was your team’s reaction when you threw 92 when originally the plan for you was to coach?
A: “They were definitely surprised. Kirby was happy, because he looked at it as adding another piece to the team. It was nice, because it was a validation of all of the workouts that I put in.”
Tell us about the rapport you have with Campbell?
A: “Well like I said we coached in 2015 and we were actually roommates. So every day, I was with him. We played together at Pine Bluff for two years and we played really well. That was the time we won our first conference championship.”
How was living with Campbell?
A: “He’s a fiery guy — very organized. I’ve always wondered how someone can bring the inner-fire every single day, especially something like baseball, and he was able to do it. It was very eye-opening how prepared he was every day and I learned a great deal from him.”
How would you assess your first season with the Saguaros thus far?
A: “It’s been fun. We have a great team. Everyone is trying to move up so we’re all pretty focused and dedicated. Being in the Pecos League, it’s not the nicest conditions. It’s a grind, because every day, you’re buying your own meals.
“Everyone finds their own little thing that they kinda hang on to that keeps you going. I remember one of our guys showed up and he was there for two or three days and saw our Motel 6 room and just left to go home.
“At any day, you lose hope so you just have to keep going. I’ve never had anything where you face daily depression — every day.”
How do you face “daily depression” and maintain that passion for baseball?
A: “When I was a kid, baseball was what we did. So if I could move up high enough or just get beat and I did everything that I could do after 15 years of work, then I could be happy with the conclusion.
“I feel like I have more in the tank and I know a lot of the guys on the team feel the same way.”