House, Callaway share special bond dating to days in Kinston
Rookie lefty TJ House was impressive again on Tuesday night in pitching 5.2IP against the Red Sox – including an 11-pitch battle with David Ortiz — in his third big-league start since being called up from Columbus.
But there was a time in his career – not unlike many minor-leaguers – when House was in danger of being out of the game.
Rewind to 2011, House’s second full season at High-A Kinston. He slumped to a 6-12 record, with a 5.19ERA and 1.53WHIP. Opponents hit .357 against him.
After the season, a now-familiar face to Indians fans found House and was blunt: You’re in serious danger.
That face? Current Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway.
“I struggled a lot that year. It was a bad year,” House said. “He helped resurrect my career. He was tough on me. … He said, ‘I expect better of you.’ He was honest with me.”
In 2012, House’s rebound began: He went 10-5 combined between Kinston and Double-A Akron, with a 3.56ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
So what was Callaway’s message after the 2011 season?
“He called me into the office one day and said, ‘look I’ve been watching video of you of your first year with us, and your arm slot was a lot lower. We’re going to go back to that, because what you’re doing is not working,’” said House, who delivers from a three-quarter angle.
“So I dropped back down and it was a struggle at first getting back into that groove. In 2012, I came back in, went to the Arizona Fall League, earned a roster spot and two years later, I’m here. I was literally almost out of the game. I give him a lot of credit for noticing it, acknowledging it.
In 2013, House was called up to the big leagues for the first time, a three-day stretch when the team was in Baltimore. He didn’t pitch in that series, and sent back to Columbus for the remainder of the year.
This year, he was called up on May 17 when CC Lee was sent down and made one appearance out of the bullpen – and had a wild trip to Cleveland from New York.
Three days later, he was sent back down when Jason Giambi was activated and Trevor Bauer and Justin Sellers were recalled. Two days later, when Zach McAllister went on the DL with a lower back injury, House came back up to join the rotation.
Overall in the bigs this year, he’s 0-1 with a 3.79ERA. He was in line for his first big-league victory on Tuesday before Boston rallied late – and Bourn
“When I got called up last year, it was fun to reconnect with (Callaway),” House said. “This year, he told me, ‘This has made me so proud. I didn’t think I would be able to share this moment with you, this is awesome.’
“I felt the same way. Where we were in 2011, and with he where he is and me where I am, who would have thought it?”
–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond, with a hat tip to Indians Radio’s Jim Rosenhaus