DES MOINES – Iowa Cubs Pitcher Drew Rucinski’s career has involved a lot of twists and turns. Local 5’s Jordan Furbee has more.
The distance a baseball travels from pitcher’s mound to home plate measures 60 feet, six inches, but when it comes to measuring how far Iowa Cubs pitcher Drew Rucinski has traveled throughout his career, you need a lot more than feet and inches.
“Baseball’s so crazy, one day you’re at the top, the next day you’re at the bottom,” says Rucinski.
Drew has spent plenty of time at both.
After pitching at Ohio State, Rucinski was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 2011 as an undrafted free agent, playing in the minors.
“Had a good short season with them just wasn’t room the following spring.”
Drew was released by the Tribe. His baseball journey got even tougher. In 2012, he played independent ball in the Frontier League, not exactly the most desirable spot to play.
“People see the glamorous guys making millions of dollars on TV, there’s a lot of baseball out there that’s not quite like that. Like we complain here sometimes when we have the same postgame spread every day, in indy ball if you have a postgame spread you’re happy it doesn’t matter what it is.”
Many players only make about $600 a month, which means finding other jobs to pay the bills, Drew found one that was pretty far from baseball.
“I picked pecans down there that was one of my offseason jobs. Just was out there helping, they told me what I had to do and figured out, learned how to drive a tractor and learned what I had to do so it was fun thought, I enjoyed that a lot.”
Despite the odd end jobs to make ends meet, Drew started making some noise.
“We always joked that there’s two ways out of indy ball, throw zeroes for a long time or throw 95.”
Drew led the Frontier League with 107 strikeouts in 2013. The effort earned him a minor league deal with the Anaheim Angels, eventually appearing in three big league games the following season. Rucinski made the Angels’ Opening Day roster in 2015 and played in four games before being sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake and this year coming to the I-Cubs.
“Obviously it’s great where I’ve been, I wanna be back there. Everyday I’m putting the work in to get back to the big leagues and that’s the payoff to me is everyday putting that work in to get there.”
And as his road back to the show continues, he knows never to overlook what he has right in front of him.
“I mean you can’t take for granted that you have a jersey on your back. So you gotta go out there every day, this could be my last, put it out on the line.”
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