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Aviators pitcher hoping to follow in father’s footsteps

Brady Basso has done a lot of traveling the last two months.

The left-handed pitcher started the season in Double-A Midland in Texas. He was assigned to the Las Vegas Aviators on May 8.

He then went from Midland to the majors with the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas again in the span of a week. Another call-up by the Athletics led to his MLB debut May 31. He pitched 1⅓ innings in two appearances with Oakland and recorded his first career strikeout.

The 26-year-old has earned plenty of frequent flyer miles so far this year, but he hopes his journey ends with a more permanent stint in the big leagues.

“Just the last few months, it’s definitely been a shock,” Basso said. “There’s a lot of moving pieces and it’s just part of it. It takes a minute for you to think, ‘It’s fine, (put your) head to the grindstone and continue to work.’”

Basso made two starts with the Aviators after returning from his brief stint with the Athletics. He threw five innings and struck out six while giving up three earned runs in his latest appearance against Salt Lake on Tuesday at Las Vegas Ballpark, before getting called back up to the big leagues again.

“It’s been a wild ride, man,” Basso said.

That ride has gone on for four years and counting.

Road to recovery

Basso’s pro career got off to a rocky start because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 16th-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2019 started in the Arizona Complex League in 2020. The pandemic ended the season before it began. Basso didn’t pitch that whole year. He instead spent cherished time with friends and family. He and his now-wife Sarah got married in December 2020.

Basso returned to the mound in 2021. That season didn’t last long, either. He underwent Tommy John surgery at 23 years old and didn’t return until 2023.

“There’s times you think you’re never going to be able to pitch again because with a surgery, it’s such a long process with that throwing injury,” Basso said. “Lucky for me, having my wife and both sides of our family and friends and coaches, I was able to rely on who went through it. I just did a lot of outsourcing and getting advice.”

Basso pitched for the Lansing Lugnuts, the A’s High-A club, when he returned until getting promoted to Midland in August 2023.

It was difficult for him to not put pressure on himself upon his return. He knew, at 25, he was running out of time to get a big-league career started.

“You’ve just got to enjoy it. It’s part of the process,” Basso said. “We’re all on different paths. When we’re out here, it is our job and it can be stressful at times. One thing that takes the stress away is being able to really enjoy the process. That’s what I had to do last year.”

Family ties

Basso’s most important confidant after his surgery may have been his father, Mike.

Brady Basso’s call-up to Las Vegas was a full-circle moment for his family. Mike Basso played parts of four seasons with the Las Vegas Stars (1988, 1990, 1992-93) when they were the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

Mike Basso returned in 2009 to manage the Las Vegas 51s when they were the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The team went 71-73, and he was fired after one season.

Brady Basso remembers shagging fly balls at Cashman Field while his dad operated from the home dugout.

“My dad helped me a lot growing up in baseball and really loving what minor-league baseball is,” Basso said. “I think it’s cool to grow up and see guys do it and then be able to do it myself, now back in Vegas. It’s kind of wild.”

Mike Basso’s career peaked at Triple-A. He hit .213 as a catcher in Las Vegas. Brady Basso has already checked one box his dad didn’t by reaching the majors. But he also hopes to experience similar success in Las Vegas.

“Him being here, playing here and managing here, he’s pretty-well connected to the baseball community here,” Basso said. “It’d be cool to follow in those footsteps here.”

For the future

Basso, this season, has been able to put his surgery behind him and look forward.

“He’s on a nice little trend here throwing the ball well. He’s pounding the strike zone and he’s starting to understand what works at the higher levels,” Aviators manager Fran Riordan said. “He has great stuff and a great future ahead of him.”

Staying healthy is Basso’s biggest goal. He feels good with where he’s at so far. He would like the chance to go deeper into games as the season progresses and try to help the Aviators make a playoff push.

He may see more sporadic time in the majors as well. Basso pitched two innings for the Athletics on Sunday in relief. He struck out two and gave up a two-run home run.

No matter where he’s pitching, he’s just excited to be on the mound.

“No matter what happens, I just want to wake up on my day and be ready to go out there and give the team a chance to win,” said Basso, who has a 7.59 ERA in 21⅓ innings with the Aviators. “I’ve been learning so much and I think I have so much more to learn.”

Other pro sports around the valley

Vegas Knight Hawks

Quarterback Ja’Rome Johnson recorded three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown to help the Knight Hawks snap a three-game losing streak Saturday by defeating the Duke City Gladiators 53-39 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Johnson, after splitting time with Jorge Reyna under center the past three weeks, got all the action Saturday and finished with 172 total yards.

The Knights Hawks’ defense was strong and gave up just six first-half points. Duke City rallied to score 33 points after halftime, but the Gladiators never cut their deficit to single digits.

The Knight Hawks (8-3) return home Saturday to face the Arizona Rattlers at Lee’s Family Forum.

Las Vegas Lights FC

The Lights drew with Loudoun United FC 1-1 on Friday, giving them a three-game point streak. They’ve also earned at least a point in five of their last six matches.

The Lights (4-7-4) begin a three-game homestand at Cashman Field on Tuesday against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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