Roenicke follows different path to bigs than father

Roenicke follows different path to bigs than father

Roenicke follows different path to bigs than father

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the son of a former Major League slugger, Josh Roenicke didn't exactly grow up dreaming of one day being on a big league mound.

Roenicke, the son of former outfielder Gary Roenicke, pitched on occasion but mostly played center field until finally converting to pitching once he was drafted by the Reds in 2006.

So while it's a different path than his father's, the decision worked out well for Roenicke, who has pitched in parts of six seasons in the Majors, including his first year with the Twins this season. And he couldn't have done it without a little help from dad.

"I always did both and even in college I was playing outfield most of the time, so I used to talk to him about hitting then, but with hitting I struggled," Josh said. "He was better at it than me. But then I switched to pitching in '06 and got signed as a pitcher. So he's always given me that hitters' look to pitching about throwing strikes and putting the pressure on the hitters."

Roenicke, 30, was only six years old when his dad retired in 1988 after a 12-year big league career that saw him hit .247/.351/.434 with 121 homers and 410 RBIs in 1,064 games with the Expos, Orioles, Yankees and Braves.

The elder Roenicke is most remembered for his time with the Orioles from '78-85, as he clubbed 25 homers in '79 to help them to the World Series, which they lost in seven games to the Pirates. But Roenicke won the World Series four years later in '83, and homered in the American League Championship Series.

But Josh, who was born in 1982, was too young to remember any of that, but he does have memories of being in Major League clubhouses as a kid, especially when his dad was with the Braves from '87-88.

"I remembered going into the Braves clubhouse and seeing all those guys like Dale Murphy, so that was cool," Roenicke said. "So looking back, it was pretty cool to be a part of. And now that I'm in some of the clubhouses he used to be in, it's pretty surreal. So it's pretty special that we both made it to this level and my uncle did as well. It's something you don't want to take for granted."

As Roenicke pointed out, his uncle -- current Brewers manager Ron Roenicke -- also played eight years in the Majors. He's also helped Josh get to where he is, as he had big league pitching coaches help him with his mechanics along the way because Gary and Ron were both position players and could only offer so much advice.

"My dad never gives me mechanical advice or anything like that, but he helped me because he would have my uncle's pitching coach look at film of me and try to help me even when I was in the Minor Leagues," Roenicke said.

Roenicke was a raw right-hander when the Reds took him in the 10th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He threw hard but threw mostly four-seam fastballs. He made just 16 appearances as a pitcher as a senior at UCLA in '06, while playing 45 games in the outfield.

It wasn't until he got to the Minors that he developed his secondary pitches, such as a two-seam fastball, curveball and slider. With a power arm, however, Roenicke was in the Majors by 2008, but he was traded to the Blue Jays two years later in the deal that sent Scott Rolen to Cincinnati.

Roenicke didn't stick in the Majors until last year with the Rockies, and posted an impressive 3.25 ERA in 88 2/3 innings. Despite his success, he was ultimately claimed on waivers by the Twins this offseason and has settled in as one of manager Ron Gardenhire's go-to options.

Roenicke entered Wednesday's action with a 2.93 ERA in 25 appearances, but he still isn't satisfied. He's issued 16 walks in 30 2/3 innings, which is something his dad wisely tells him he needs to cut down on.

"It frustrates me giving up walks and free passes too much this year, but I've been working on my mechanics," Roenicke said. "Hopefully, I can fine tune that and my command my pitches. So I'm doing all right. I've done well in some outings but need to cut the walks down."

Roenicke, a Nevada City, Calif. native, reunited with his family this week, as his parents came to watch him pitch during the Twins' homestand at Target Field. It's something he was looking forward to, as his dad doesn't get a chance to see him pitch in person too often.

"He'll be coming out to Minnesota this week," Roenicke said. "He always enjoys coming to watch me play."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.