UD alum Michael Hauschild working for another chance at “the show”

By Marc Katz

It doesn’t always happen this way, but Patty and Doug Hauschild eavesdropped on the dugout-to-bullpen phone call that preceded their son Michael’s first major league appearance for the Texas Rangers last April.
They were attending the game in Arlington, Texas, but wandered from their seats behind home plate to see some friends who were in right field, just above the Rangers’ bullpen.
In addition to being the parents of three, Doug is the sports information director at UD and Patty is a high school educator, so this was in-season vacation time.
They heard the telephone ring and the call from the bullpen coach for right-hander Michael Hauschild to get up and get ready for his major league debut.
“It was a rush,” Patty said. “It was just incredible.”
It was, until the first pitch Hauschild threw whistled into the outfield for a double.
He made it out of the inning, allowing just one run, but a week and a half later was back in the minor leagues.
This March he has been at spring training with the Houston Astros, awaiting that next call to the majors.
It’s like that in sports, especially baseball, where the highs are moon shots and the lows are crawling with the worms.
Michael Hauschild explored the range of emotions last year when he was chosen off the Astros’ minor league player list by the Rangers in what is called the Rule 5 Draft. A player obtained in this way must occupy a major league roster spot all season or be returned to his original team.
Hauschild, who had already played five minor league seasons since being chosen in the 33rd round out of UD by Houston in 2012, and made the Rangers out of spring training, but he could sense trouble.
Although 2016 had been his best season, he also played in winter ball, shortening the rest period for his arm.
“I didn’t go to big leagues with my best stuff,” Hauschild said. “I was messed up.”
The Rangers changed his mechanics. Balls that used to go for ground-outs now went out of the park as his control wavered, pushing his pitches up in the strike zone.
He pitched eight innings in four big league games from April 8-19 and was sent back to Houston the next day with an 11.25 ERA.
“When they called me in to send me back down, I wasn’t surprised,” Hauschild said. “I wasn’t pitching well at all. I wasn’t the guy they picked (in the Rule 5 Draft).”
He is 6-foot-3, throws in the low 90s and has a deceptive change-up. He is also in an organization stocked with players and coming off a World Championship.
But before you laugh at his chances, remember guys like Todd Coffey pitched here, for the Dragons. Coffey was a 41st-round draft pick by the Reds in 1998 (when they drafted more than 40 rounds) and eventually pitched eight years in the majors for the Reds and three other teams.
Stuff like that happens all the time, and Hauschild knows it.
“I got drafted late and just kind of moved up every year,” Hauschild said. “I’m trying to do the best I can, trying to learn how to pitch a little better and throw a ball.”
This is where time and availability come into play. The 30 major league franchises replenish their minor league systems every June, and 19- to 22-year-olds begin to flood the market. Most playing careers are finished by age 35. Forty-year-old players are rare. Hauschild is 28 and reaching his prime.
Since there are 30 major league franchises, players are reminded all the time they’re playing for 30 different teams, not just the team whose uniform they’re wearing. And while Hauschild has never quite been a “prospect,” he does have lots of experience. If he had nothing to offer, he would have been long gone by now.
That he was returned to the Astros, who gladly accepted him, was a plus, not a minus.
It was also a time for mom and dad to step up.
“I was sad for him,” Patty said. “I also knew he would get back. It’s still all about his effort. He works incredibly hard to be better.
“Our expectation is he’ll go out there and show them he was going to be in the
major leagues.”
I’ve seen guys with good attitudes about being sent back, and guys with bad attitudes. Hauschild is way on the positive side.
“So I was like, all right, I got my taste,” Hauschild said. “I got my butt kicked and just get back to work and try to get back to where I used to be. At the end of last year, I got pretty close to where I used to be. I needed to get the reps I needed that I really couldn’t get at that point in the season because my arm was tired from a long season. This off-season, I worked on that.
“My goal this year is to pitch like I did in the past. Have fun pitching again. It was kind of a struggle last year.”
Patty and Doug will be awaiting the phone call.

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Marc Katz
Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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