Democrat/Messenger Gazette: Brian Henderson Story

My first story appeared on NJ.com, and this one didn’t.  Don’t know why.  Either way, I wanted you guys to see if you don’t read either the Democrat or Messenger Gazette, so here ya go…

By MIKE ASHMORE

It would be easy to overlook the re-signing of relief pitcher Brian Henderson by the Somerset Patriots.

To begin with, his name was buried among some of the other players Somerset has brought in over the past week; including former major league outfielder Tim Raines, Jr. and catcher Pete LaForest, as well as the re-signing of starting pitcher Josh Miller and addition of reliever Daryl Arreola.

And when it came time for affiliated baseball to sign players out of the Atlantic League in 2009, the 27-year-old lefty never got the call, despite a 4-1 record with a 2.32 ERA in 45 games.

Brian Henderson will not be overlooked this season. He can’t be. Not if his main focus is to improve on a season where he approached career bests in several categories, and earned his fourth championship ring in seven professional seasons.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of interest during the year from affiliated ball,” Henderson said.

“I really wasn’t that surprised. I know money’s tight with Major League Baseball, so they’re not as willing to go out and sign older guys, I think. They’re more looking to develop their younger players or stay within their own organization. A few years ago, I would have been surprised, but based on where we’re at with the economy…that’s why I called Brett Jodie back in December, just in case nothing really came up, I was going back for sure.”

For many players, a season like last year would leave them wondering what else they could possibly do to get out of the Atlantic League. Not Henderson.

“I know what I have to do to get out of Somerset, and that’s just keep winning. That’s all I can do each day, do what it takes to win,” he said.

“To be frustrated and throw up my hands, that’s a waste of time. I don’t have time for that.”

After six successful seasons in the Rays organization, where Henderson topped out at Triple-A, he enjoyed a smooth transition to his first foray into independent baseball.

“Last year was one of the most exciting years in a long time for me,” he said.

“Independent ball frees me up. You’re not committed to be there…I’m there because I want to be there. In affiliated ball, you feel more like a piece of property. In independent ball, you can retire any time you want. You have a little bit more control of what you’re going to do that year. It’s let’s just win, put up good numbers and stay healthy. It’s not like you’re looking over your shoulder at that guy in Low-A, thinking he might take your job next month or something.”

Complacency is something that many Atlantic League teams have to deal with as well. While the league prides itself on the players it sends back to affiliated baseball, a small portion of players across the eight teams have been in the league for several years and often have little realistic chance to be signed and the results can often show. So many fans may take it as a pleasant surprise that a little-known reliever with a sub-three ERA and a championship ring in 2009 has two main goals in 2010: An ERA below 2.00, and another championship ring.

“I want a one (ERA). I’m not just going to sit on my laurels. I always want to get better,” Henderson said.

“It’s going to be the same stuff as last year, but I want it to be better. It’s going to be sharper, I’m going to have to more control with it…I’m just going to be one year better. The same formula applies; outwork the next guy, outwork yourself, push your limits. I know we can be better, and I think I can be better too.”

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2 Responses to “Democrat/Messenger Gazette: Brian Henderson Story”

  1. Dennis Henderson Says:

    His Dad appreciates it as I could not find the article..thanks.

  2. patriotsashmore Says:

    You’re welcome…no idea why it didn’t make online. I promised Brian a print copy, I’ll stop by the office and grab one.

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