Monday, Aug. 31, 2009 | 9:39 p.m.
A Las Vegas resident could be a key component of the New York Yankees bullpen during the final month of the season and into the playoffs.
Mike Dunn, a Cimarron-Memorial High graduate and former College of Southern Nevada player, was called up to the big leagues Monday night and will be in unifom Tuesday in Baltimore.
The left-handed Dunn, who went 1-0 with a 2.25 earned run average in 20 innings with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate in Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Pa., has had his fastball clocked at 98 mph. With an 89 mph slider, he’s the ideal candidate to face left-handed batters late in the game, Southern Ncvada coach Tim Chambers said.
“I was actually surprised he didn’t get called up earlier,” Chambers said. “He can help them win. He has the perfect make-up for it. Nothing bothers him and he not afraid to face anyone.”
Dunn, 24, pitched two-thirds of an inning Monday night and was called into the manager’s office following the game to learn of the good news.
It was words every ballplayer dreams of hearing.
“I’m just so excited — words can’t even describe it,” he said. “I’m going to go up there and help them in any situation they need.”
Dunn understands the pressure associated with playing for the high-profiled Yankees and doesn’t plan on letting the enormity of the playoff race overwhelm him.
“You have to think of it as just another game,” he said. “The Yankees are all about winning. You have to stay composed from pitch to pitch and inning to inning.”
Dunn played outfield and first base for two years at Southern Nevada and was drafted by the Yankees in 2005. He arrived for spring training in 2006 to learn he was no longer an outfielder — he was being converted to a pitcher.
Dunn hadn’t pitched since his days at Cimarron and spent most of 2006 working on his mechanics in the bullpen. Some three years later, he is in the big leagues.
“I’m pumped up for Mike,” Chambers said. “He is really a solid guy. Just a great kid.”
Dunn said the transition from playing everyday as a position player to learning to pitch was a challenge. But it never altered his ultimate goal of reaching the big leagues.
“I always had the thought in my head that I was going to be in the big leagues,” he said. “I didn’t care if it was as a pitcher or a hitter. This is just amazing.”
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].