NEW BRITAIN - Evan Scribner could not have asked for a better homecoming than this season with the New Britain Bees.
After graduating from Central Connecticut State University in 2007, Scribner spent parts of seven seasons from 2011-2017 in the major leagues with the San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners. But when the Tampa Bay Rays released him during spring training this season it gave the right-hander a chance to go back to where his career began.
“There’s definitely a familiarity [playing in New Britain],” Scribner said. “We actually played our [NEC] conference tournament games on this field. The last game I played at Central was actually [at New Britain Stadium] in 2007. I know a lot of people around here as well. So it’s been really cool to play back around here. I haven’t really gotten the chance to play around here [since graduating from CCSU] because I’ve always been on the West Coast. So it’s cool having people be able to come watch me play who really haven’t been able to since I was in college.”
Scribner hasn’t disappointed the hometown crowd. In 33 games, the closer has given up just 25 hits and a 2.12 ERA. He has saved 21 games for New Britain, the fourth-most in the Atlantic League and made the All-Star Game back in July.
“I think a lot goes into it,” Scribner said of his dominance throughout the season. “I’m just doing what I always do - trying to throw strikes. Recently, the struggle for me hasn’t been my performance, it’s been my injuries. Pitching-wise, I think I’ve been pretty decent. It’s good to get back out there and show that I’m healthy and can get those big out at the end of games.”
But his most impressive skill may be his command of the strike zone. In 34 innings this season, Scribner has surrendered just two walks. The feat comes as no surprise - in 2015 with Oakland, Scribner had just four walks in 60 innings.
“He locates the ball well and has a nice curveball,” Backman said of his closer. “He’s a big league guy. He’s solid. He throws strikes and can place his fastball on both sides of the plate. He can throw his curveball different. Plus, he has a changeup too. He knows how to pitch. He forces hitters to expand the zone because he always gets ahead.”
Scribner believes his job has been made easier by the success of his teammates in the bullpen.
“The bullpen has been really good,” Scribner said. “We have some really good lefties and some good righties. Wally likes to use matchups a lot. The fact that we have those lefties back there is good because we can keep the matchups in our favor. Everyone has been really good. As a closer, you only want to have to throw one inning. So it’s cool that the guys before me are always doing their job.”
Though the former big leaguer hopes to get back on a major league mound, he isn’t setting any goals for himself. Instead, his focus is on helping the Bees win games as they get ready for a playoff push.
“We’re trying not to look ahead too far at the playoff race yet,” Scribner said. “But it’s getting to that point now. We’re just taking it day-by-day and try to win the game that day. That’s all we really can do. We’re not out of it yet. It’s one of those things where any team can get hot and run away with it. We’re trying to make sure we are that team.”