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Kittredge going strong one year after MLB debut
07/24/2018 9:23 PM ET
Balancing act - Former Bite pitcher Andrew Kittredge has been in action for the Durham Bulls and MLB side Tampa Bay Rays this season.
Balancing act - Former Bite pitcher Andrew Kittredge has been in action for the Durham Bulls and MLB side Tampa Bay Rays this season. (Ben Southall/SMP Images/ABL Media)

Some players get their big break at a young age while others have to wait. Andrew Kittredge was somewhere in-between when he made his MLB debut last year for the Tampa Bay Rays at 27-years-old.

It was his seventh season of professional baseball and just under five years since he pitched for the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks.

When Kittredge arrived for the 2012/13 ABL season he had only 42 innings to his name. Four hundred innings and 31 MLB games later, the phone call he received one year ago was life changing.

"It was definitely a humbling experience and one I'll remember forever," Kittredge said.

"I first called my then fiancé (now wife) and then I called my parents.

"I honestly couldn't believe that it was happening.

"I knew that I was throwing well and that it was a possibility that it could happen, but in my seventh season I was starting to think that it might never happen."

Moving between Triple-A with Durham and Tampa Bay over the past two seasons, his potential was first spotted following his time in Adelaide, when he had his first taste of Triple-A action in 2013.

"At 22 I was really young and I think that the experience of just being on my own in another country was great for me," Kittredge said.

"I would say that playing in that league with the great competition they have there was very helpful and just another way to gather more experience as a player."

During his ABL career he was a Seattle prospect but a trade to the Rays in 2016 coincided with a breakout 2017 season that saw him pitch a 1.45 ERA in the minors.

Kittredge says his improvement has come from maturity rather than a change of technique.

"I really think it is more me maturing as a player and a person," Kittredge said.

"I think I have developed a better understanding of myself as a player and that has helped me a lot.

"My pitches are the same as they've been for a long time, I just have a better understanding of how to use them."

In a twist of fate, Kittredge has also been joined by former Bite teammate Ji-Man Choi, following Choi's mid-season move from Milwaukee to Tampa Bay.

"The team we had in Adelaide was so much fun to be on," he said.

"We had an awesome group of guys and the coaching staff definitely made it a good atmosphere.

"My whole experience in Australia was awesome, though, it is a beautiful country and I hope to come back with my wife at some point."

With 31 MLB games to his name the major goal for Kittredge is to keep adding to the tally, but his more immediate focus is helping Durham win.

Currently he is carrying a 2.90 ERA for the Bulls and after pitching another his third win of the season he knows the Rays will always be watching.

"My goals each day are to be myself and do my job," he said.

"If I do my job to help the team, that is all I can control.

"I know getting back up with the Rays isn't going to be my decision so I try not to think about that much.

"I just try to be the best I can be each day and hopefully at some point I'll get another opportunity."

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.