INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – David Bednar’s young career has been full of adjustments.
Not only was Bednar traded to Pittsburgh just as he cracked the major leagues, he had several adjustments while transitioning into an All-Star pitcher.
Bednar, a starter for his entire time at Lafayette College, just made his first professional start as the opener with Indianapolis last week in a rehab appearance. He was groomed from the beginning as a reliever in the San Diego organization.
“It was definitely an adjustment from going from college to pro ball,“ Bednar said. “It was mainly just the starter to reliever aspect. Thankfully, it was an easy transition. Once I figured out the routine, that was the tough part. It was how to find a routine for me and how to get to work in. You have to be ready to pitch every single day. I think that’s one of my favorite parts about it. No matter what happened the day before, you have to be locked in and ready to go that night. You can’t let it linger, mentally and physically.”
Following the trade, Bednar had a successful 2021 season as a leverage reliever in the Pirates bullpen. This season, he stepped up even further as a National League All-Star.
While it is simply three of 27 outs in a game, there is absolutely a mental aspect to being able to deal with both the adrenaline when “Renegade” hits, and also the pressure of visiting fans screaming for you to fail. For Bednar, he tries to have early success, and not dig a hole.
“The cliché is to treat it like every other out, but there is definitely a different feel no matter how you try to tell yourself that.” Bednar said. “I think the most important thing is to just simplify it pitch to pitch. You kind of avoid the finality of it and making it bigger than it is. Really is just three more outs. The biggest thing I try to focus on is just getting the first strike. Getting the first strike, and the first out is just so important. It keeps all the guys engaged and on their toes. It also gives you a good opportunity, in case a guy or two get on. It’s just a great way to start, and I think it’s the best mantra to get into that attack mode.“
Routine is extremely important to Bednar and his success. He credits some veterans in the Padres bullpen for helping him develop his routine early on.
While routine is crucial to his success, Bednar also mentions that it happens to contain some fluidity.
“I’ve always been very routine oriented,” Bednar said. “I’ve had mine, and see what works for others to see if it works for me. I just threw stuff at the wall, and kept whatever stuck. As the season goes on, you kind of pick and choose whatever you want to keep and what works and what doesn’t. At the same time, you always want to have those staples. This is what I need to do to get ready to pitch this day.”
As for the future coming in the bullpen, Bednar realizes that he has a leadership responsibility, being the All-Star. However, his is more of a demonstration leadership, than a vocal one. Regardless, he likes what he sees in the youth.
“It is a really young team, and I haven’t been doing it a whole long time,” Bednar said. “I’m not trying to overstep. I’m just trying to work hard and lead by example. If anybody has any questions, I’m always more than happy. Everybody’s come up with a good attitude and willingness to compete and grind everyday. It’s really encouraging to see that part of it, because stuff is going to happen — good and bad — on the field and if you show up ready to compete every day, that’s the biggest thing. That’s the biggest thing that fires me up watching the guys come up and they’re ready to compete when the time comes.”
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.