January 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Eric Fryer just looks beyond his years. Walk around Pirate City when the Major Leaguers are in town and he just kind of fits in.
“Look! It’s Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Joel Hanrahan…Eric Fryer?”
To be honest, it took a while for me to get used to the fact that Fryer wasn’t this wily vet down in A-ball coaching others on their way to the Show. I just always got the feeling he was some kind of Crash Davis. After all, Fryer is on his third organization (because of trades, not releases), he’s married with a son and he’s, well, balding. But then you check the vitals.
Last year was only Fryer’s third full professional season, and the first in which he only played one position. The catcher found a home with Pittsburgh and is only 25, nothing more. Next month the Ohio native is going to his first Major League Spring Training.
“I was out taking batting practice and [Pirates Director of Player Development Kyle Stark] just kind of pulled me aside and said ‘Hey you want to come to big league camp?’” Fryer said very matter-of-factly. “I said sure and he goes, ‘Yeah well we’re going to invite you.’”
Ho Hum. But then again that’s Eric Fryer. He just kind of takes everything in stride. He goes about his business and he gets it done. He falls under the category of a ‘Lunch pail guy;’ somebody who grabs the pail and just goes to work.
And Fry worked last year. He hit .300 with the Marauders, heating up late in the year despite coming back from a broken face. Yes, a broken face. Fryer took a pitch to the orbital bone while batting against Charlotte in July and missed a month. When he came back you could still see a little imprint of where the seams hit. A big league Spring Training call is well deserved.
“Nothing really changes except when I’m going to arrive,” said Fryer. “The goals are still the same: Go out and just improve every day that I can and get better leading up to the season. It will be neat to gain a little bit more experience from the older guys, see a little more from [Chris] Snyder, [Ryan] Doumit and [Jason] Jaramillo. I can see what they do really well and try and take it to my game.”
Fryer is one of 22 Non-Roster Invitees to Pirates camp. He’s officially listed as an outfielder but says he hasn’t been told he’ll be doing anything other than catching. Several other Marauders will be with Fryer, including fellow catcher Tony Sanchez, pitchers Jeff Locke, Bryan Morris, Ramon Aguero and Kyle McPherson.
“It’s nice that there are several guys I know from playing with them during the season or having been around them at instructs,” Fryer said. “So it won’t be as awkward. I feel like I can belong and they invited me for a reason so it’s just a matter of going out and playing and hopefully the results go in my favor.”
And it’s kind of nice because of the perks you get too. Fryer said he’s already been ordered some bats, a nice change from the generic Pro Stocks he uses regularly. He makes out just a bit better financially as well.
“I get a little more meal money up on the major league side so I’m going to take advantage of that and live off it a little bit,” Fryer said. “Aside from that it’s just a chance to play against top tier competition and I think that’s just what everybody wants the chance to do.”
Pitchers and catchers report to Pirate City the third week of February.