Rzepczynski versatile, reliable lefty option in 'pen

Rzepczynski versatile, reliable lefty option in 'pen

CLEVELAND -- Marc Rzepczynski is the resident squirrel expert in the Indians' bullpen. More importantly for Cleveland, he has turned into a reliable left-handed option since being acquired in a trade with St. Louis last summer.

The lefty was with the Cardinals when the Rally Squirrel did its part during St. Louis' run to the World Series in 2011 and he was in the Tribe's 'pen Monday, when another fleet-footed forest creature ran on the field at Progressive Field.

"It was definitely a comical thing, watching him try to get away from the grounds crew guys," Rzepczynski said with a laugh Tuesday. "The same thing happened to us in '11. It was funny. ... They were able to finally corral him into our bullpen. Hopefully he's out there and we'll see him again."

Rzepczynski has brought enough good luck to the Cleveland 'pen on his own since joining the club.

"He's made a huge difference," Indians setup man Cody Allen said. "Our bullpen kind of took off last year when we got him. He can play so many different roles. He can be a one-out guy, he can go get a tough lefty, he can get righties out, he can pitch more than one inning.

"There's so many different things he can do. Having him there, allows guys like me and [Bryan] Shaw and some other guys to kind of stay in their role."

Entering Tuesday's game with the Royals, Rzepczynski had a 1.00 ERA in his 10 appearances, limiting batters to a .143 average in nine innings. Since coming to the Tribe via trade before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline last season, all the left-hander has done is post a 0.92 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with 27 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings for Cleveland.

"He's added so much to our bullpen," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When you have that lefty that you trust, it adds so much to your bullpen, because they're going to face the better hitters -- the guys that don't get pinch-hit for and in situations where the game is on the line. When they're successful, it makes the rest of your bullpen that much better."

Before the trade to the Indians, Rzepczynski had been demoted to Triple-A Memphis by the Cardinals, who saw him post a 7.84 ERA in 11 games early last season. Needless to say, Rzepczynski welcomed the change of scenery with open arms.

"I knew my time in St. Louis was over. It's the business of the game," he said. "I was lucky enough to come here and St. Louis did a nice thing of trying to trade me. I wanted to prove when I got here that I still had stuff left. For me, it's just, every day, feeding off the success that I had before and feeding off the negative I've had before and learning from my mistakes.

"It's realizing not to take anything for granted. One day you can be here and the next day your career could be over. Every day, I come to the ballpark and just try to prove myself every day, go about my business and perform."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.