The conversation, as Cody Hebner recalls, was short and to the point.
(Fort Wayne pitching coach) Willie Blair came up and he said, You’ve got Game 1.’ So I said, Sounds good,’ Hebner said Monday.
Hebner is the opening-day starting pitcher for the TinCaps. The 21-year-old right-hander will be on the mound when Fort Wayne begins the 2012 season Thursday at Parkview Field against Lake County.
I’m excited for the season to come, Hebner said. And then when I heard I got opening night, I’m even more excited. It takes it to the next level.
Hebner’s college baseball experience and his strong spring led to the assignment.
He’s a very talented young man. He’s very competitive, Blair said. He throws the ball hard and mixes it up with a good breaking ball. He throws his changeup in there every now and then. He has really good stuff.
Hebner went 2-2 with a 3.55 ERA at San Diego’s short-season A squad in Eugene, Ore. He struck out 39, walked 15, and opponents batted .207 against Hebner.
He’s a little bit different, Blair said. He has a real high leg kick and kind of turns around. It’s a little funky, but it’s fun to watch.
Hebner said he’s been around baseball his whole life.
I like the fact that you don’t have a lot of down time. You have to devote all your time to it, he said. And mental toughness is key in baseball. You have to learn to deal with adversity and rise above it, and you’ve got to learn how to get past failure because this is a failure sport. And I like that.
San Diego selected Hebner in the fourth round of the 2011 draft out of Green River Community College.
He had a 1.06 ERA in home games for Eugene last season. He’s looking to carry over that success this season, beginning Thursday.
I can’t get too amped up about it, Hebner said. I just have to get mentally prepared for that and keep the same focus that I have been.