BRADENTON -- There was one out in the first inning Monday evening and the bases were full of St. Lucie Mets.
It wasn't quite the scenario Casey Sadler envisioned for his seventh start of the season as a Bradenton Marauder, but it wasn't one he was completely foreign to -- a reliever throughout most of his professional career, Sadler was accustomed to inheriting sticky situations like this one.
So rather than let the inning spin out of control, Sadler induced Blake Forsythe to roll into a rally-killing double play. And while Sadler fell on the wrong end of the Mets' 4-1 victory, the righty chalked Monday up as another worthwhile learning experience.
"I've kind of waited on this opportunity," Sadler said. "I enjoyed being in the pen. It was a different experience and it was something I could kind of build off of. ... I like starting, I like having that everyday routine."
Since becoming a 25th-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010, Sadler has spent a large chunk of his time trotting out of the bullpen during the middle of the game rather than trotting out of the dugout during the beginning of one. He made a combined 47 appearances over the past two seasons with the Pirates' New York-Penn League affiliate in State College and their low Single-A team in West
Virginia, and 46 of those came in relief.
It's been a bit different in Bradenton. Monday marked Sadler's seventh start of the season and sixth in a row, and though his record fell to a 1-4, he has pitched to a respectable 2.91 ERA while limiting hitters to a .238 average in 34 innings as a starter.
"I caught him last year, and I've seen a big change," said Marauders catcher Kawika Emsley-Pai. "More maturity and everything, and it's very impressive to see where he was at then and where he is at now."
Sadler was a starter all through high school and during his days at Western Oklahoma State Junior College. But when the Pirates told him he'd begin his professional career as a reliever, Sadler said he wasn't the least but disappointed.
"Just innings -- young kid coming out of a junior college, they just wanted to get you out there, get you innings," said Sadler, who racked up 90 2/3 innings of work heading into this season, "and we'll sort things out later. I was on board. All I wanted to do was pitch, and I really, really didn't care when or what or anything like that. And looking back at it, I think it helped me as a starter. When I first came up from college, the first inning was always a rough inning. But being in the pen, you don't have time for that.
"I think it was a blessing."
Sadler kept the Marauders in the game Monday, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits in five innings while walking two and striking out four. But he considers every start a learning experience, and after throwing 95 pitches Monday, Sadler didn't consider this last appearance to be any different.
"I felt like I wasn't very aggressive. I got into a lot of deep counts, kind of toyed with them a little bit," he said, "instead of just going right after them and letting your defense play...The more balls that I let go into play, the better your defense is going to play, the less pitches you're gonna throw..."
Sadler learned some that while working out of the bullpen and is incorporating that into his new role.
But while his job may have changed, he knows one thing hasn't.
"The concept is the same -- get outs," Sadler said.