Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pitcher Slowly Inches Closer to His Shot at Major Leagues

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pitcher Slowly Inches Closer to His Shot at Major Leagues

Article excerpt

Byline: Brent Beaird, County Line sports writer

Doug Sessions is moving closer to his goal of playing major league baseball. Sessions, an Orange Park graduate, is a starting pitcher for the Class AAA New Orleans Zephyrs of the Houston Astros' baseball organization.

Sessions, 2-1 with a 3.02 earned-run average, has struck out 37 and walked 19. The 26-year-old credits his time playing winter baseball as one of the reasons for a solid season.

"While I was in Venezuela, I worked on my mechanics and conditioning," Sessions said. "It really helped me to spend time there."

The biggest change for Sessions this season has been switching from a relief pitcher to a starter.

"The adjustment that I have had to make is the stamina factor," said Sessions, whose longest start is seven innings. "Since I have been in the bullpen practically my whole career, it is different having to face the same batter several times in a game."

Anytime a player reaches Triple-A status, there is a chance of being called up to the major league team.

"I am not on the 40-man roster yet, but at this level anything can happen," Sessions said. "Guys can get hurt and other guys go up and down within the organization, so you never know when you might have a chance."

Houston drafted Sessions in the 13th round out of Armstrong State (Savannah, Ga.) in 1998. A year later, he was second on the team in saves with 13 at Class A Kissimmee. This is his fifth year in the minors.

What has helped Sessions advance in the minors is his ability to throw all four pitches -- fastball, curveball, slider and change-up -- adequately. Many pitchers coming out of the bullpen might have only a fastball and maybe one other pitch. He added that he has relied more on his changeup as a starter.

One of his biggest thrills of the season was his first win.

"It is always great to get your first win at the Triple-A level," he said. "It came against the Edmonton team from Montreal. I had a no-hitter going for five innings."

His main disappointment of the season has come at the plate where he has yet to get a hit.

"I have not swung a bat since my college days, but I have gotten an RBI and a couple of walks," Sessions said

He said he has been pleased with his treatment from the Houston organization. …

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