Interview With Sacramento's Britt Reames

Sacramento reliever Britt Reames has had a long baseball journey since being drafted in the 17th round of the 1995 amateur draft by the Cardinals. Reames' career has seen him go from the Cardinals organization to the A's organization via the Montreal Expos. We caught up with the veteran right-hander before Tuesday night's game against the Fresno Grizzlies and he gave us his thoughts on playing in Sacramento, the Cardinals organization and the experience that was playing in Montreal.

Britt Reames is in his second season with the Sacramento River Cats. In 2004, the Citadel alum appeared in 34 games for the River Cats. All but three of those appearances came out of the bullpen and he amassed a 4.34 ERA with eight saves and a 9.87 K/9 ratio. Reames was a free agent in the off-season, but he chose to re-sign with Oakland.

"I signed back here really quickly," Reames said. "I was hoping I'd have a chance to go back to the big leagues and I did for, like, a minute, but you never know what the future holds."

That "major league minute" was a brief call-up in mid-May when the A's were in the throes of their worst run of the season. A jet-lagged Reames arrived in Tampa Bay on May 25 after an all-night flight from Sacramento and was immediately called upon when A's starter Joe Blanton couldn't get out of the first inning. Reames pitched admirably, throwing 5.2 innings in a game that was already lost before he got in it. He made one more appearance against the Devil Rays on June 1 and allowed a run in an inning of work. He was sent down on June 4 when the A's recalled Ryan Glynn from Sacramento to make a spot start.

Reames has put together a fine season for the River Cats. He has made 40 appearances for Sacramento, including seven starts. His versatility has been invaluable for Sacramento in a season that has seen the River Cats pitching staff decimated by injuries. Reames has struck out 84 batters in 90 innings and has a 3.29 ERA with eight saves. He could be a candidate to rejoin Oakland when rosters expand in September, but, for now, Reames is focused on pitching for Sacramento.

"I'm not even worried about [the possibility of being a September call-up]. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't then I guess I'll have to move on," Reames said with a laugh.

Reames, like every minor league ballplayer, would prefer to be playing at the major league level, but he insists that his situation in Sacramento is the next best thing to being in the big leagues.

"If you've got to be some place playing Triple-A, this [Sacramento] is the best place to be," Reames said.

"Out of all the places there are in the minors, this is the best by far in terms of fans and the quality of players they bring in here every year. They win year in and year out and as a player that's what you want to do – win and play in front of good fans."

Reames got a taste of another good fan base when he made his major league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000. As a 26 year-old rookie, Reames had the opportunity to pitch for a playoff-contending team and he did an admirable job. Reames appeared in eight games for St. Louis, seven of which were starts, and he posted a 2-1 record with a 2.88 ERA. He was a part of the Cardinals' 2000 post-season roster and he allowed only one run in 9.2 innings of work over four appearances in the NLDS and NLCS. Reames thoroughly enjoyed his experience in the St. Louis organization, which lasted five seasons.

"St. Louis was first-class. It is one of the best places you can probably play as far as fans go, and as far as being in the big leagues," Reames said.

His career took a different turn during the next off-season, however, when he was dealt with Fernando Tatis to the Montreal Expos for Steve Kline and Dustin Hermanson. That trade began three frustrating seasons for Reames with the Montreal organization. During those three years, Reames was pulled back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen and between Triple-A and the big leagues.

"Montreal was a little different. There was a whole different culture that you had to get used to and playing in front of no fans. It was basically like three years of a nightmare," Reames said.

"It was good to be in the big leagues and get that experience, but it wasn't a good experience for me baseball-wise. I never had a position. I was constantly going back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation and between AAA and the big leagues. I had three different managers and three different pitching coaches in three seasons, so that tells you something right there."

Reames was granted his free agency after the 2003 season and he signed on with Oakland. After splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen throughout his career, he has primarily been a reliever in the A's system. And if you ask him, that is exactly where he should be.

"Right now I'm in a really good place [in the bullpen]. There is a chance that I may go and play winter ball and be a starter but that is just to get innings," Reames said.

"As a player, I know that I am better out of the bullpen so I'm really comfortable doing what I'm doing right now."

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