Former UNLV ace Erick Fedde eyes Nationals starting rotation

Updated February 9, 2019 - 3:48 pm

To paraphrase former UNLV quarterback Kenny Mayne on ESPN, the finest meats and cheeses were served at a $100 plate fundraiser benefiting the UNLV baseball team Thursday at the Strip View Pavilion in the Thomas & Mack Center.

Erick Fedde, who was seated in the audience, enjoyed dessert, too — the former first-round draft choice from UNLV is trying to gain 20 pounds in an attempt to break into the Washington Nationals’ starting rotation during spring training. But after the inaugural First Pitch feast, he mostly talked about how cool it was to be pitching against the Cubs and Dodgers just a couple of years removed from doing the same against Air Force and New Mexico.

“This recent year I got to pitch at Yankee Stadium, which was quite an experience,” said the former Las Vegas High ace about a 2018 season in which he started 11 games for the Nationals and battled a shoulder injury. “You don’t really understand what true fan aggression is until you get there.

“The experience of being with the guys, traveling, you learn what the whole big league experience is like. After spending some time in the minors, you’re very appreciative of that lifestyle.”

The right-hander, listed at 6 feet 4 inches tall and 195 pounds on the Nationals’ website, said he’s facing guys he used to watch on TV, the thrill of which hasn’t worn off yet.

“My first spring training, Ichiro was with the Marlins and we faced them, and I definitely had a poster of him up on my wall,” Fedde said with a smile warmer than Grapefruit League sunshine.

Did he get Ichiro out?

“I actually did. I got lucky. Just a fly ball to the outfield,” said Fedde, who turns 26 on Feb. 25. “It’s something you write down in a little book and always have in your back pocket.”

Maddux speaks

Greg Maddux sort of reminds one of the Dos Equis guy who doesn’t drink beer often: Maddux doesn’t do much public speaking, but when he does, it’s usually interesting.

The change-up artist covered a wide variety of topics during questions and answers at Thursday’s UNLV First Pitch Dinner — the Rebels host Seattle at 6:05 p.m. Friday in their season opener — including whether he would return as Rebels pitching coach after son Chase, a redshirt junior, is through pitching.

“I wanna say yes, but I’m definitely not saying no,” the Hall of Fame pitcher said. “I’m enjoying it right now. As long as I enjoy doing it, I’m going to keep doing it.”

Irv vs. Gondo

The recent death of longtime NCAA basketball official and TV personality Irv Brown reminded me of one of sport’s most bitter rivalries: Brown vs. UNLV basketball great Glen Gondrezick.

Both were from Boulder, Colorado, and originally made their names on the baseball diamond. But they rarely (if ever) spoke after Brown whistled Gondo for several controversial fouls during UNLV’s 1977 Final Four defeat to North Carolina.

“I called three blocks on Gondo, and he wouldn’t speak to me — and we were friends,” Brown told RJ alumnus John Henderson for a 2013 Denver Post story profiling his career.

Gondo preceded Brown in death in 2009. But if there’s a rock ‘n’ roll heaven as per that old Righteous Brothers song, perhaps there’s also a place where forwards with hard noses and referees who didn’t know the difference between a block and a charge can resolve their differences.

Changing signals

College basketball analyst Jay Bilas has an idea that might have precluded Irv Brown and Glen Gondrezick from becoming enemies.

“The solution to the block-charge call is to change the officials’ signal,” Bilas wrote on Twitter. “If the charge signal is changed from the violent air punch to the signal for a shot clock violation (tap of the head), charge calls would be cut in half.”

I think what Bilas was trying to say is the air punch riles up fans, especially when it favors the home side during a 9-0 run. And that a lot of officials love it when they punch the air and home fans go nuts.

For a Duke guy, that Bilas can be pretty smart sometimes.

Solid Wood

Former UNLV basketball star Christian Wood recently scored 40 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for the Wisconsin Herd in an NBA G League game against the Erie Bayhawks. To no one’s surprise, he was called up for another stint with the Milwaukee Bucks.

In 19 starts for the Herd, Wood averaged 28.4 points on 54 percent shooting. He has appeared in nine games for the Bucks trying to carve out an NBA identity.

But they already know who he is in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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