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Grove soaking up all he can with the Dodgers

If he didn’t live his life this way before, Michael Grove has received a crash course on being flexible in terms of schedules and travel.

Grove, who is a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff, has found himself going back and forth this season between the Dodgers and the minor leagues.

The Wheeling Park graduate fully understands that’s part of the process for what he hopes will be a lengthy big-league pitching career.

“It’s been a wild season,” Grove said during a recent phone interview. “There’s been a lot of moving around and uncertainty at times and kind of doing things on the fly, but I know I have to be ready when needed.”

In this latest stint in the majors, Grove has been able to get on more of a regular schedule. He was called up on Sept. 14 and has made two starts, including one last Tuesday in the opening game of a doubleheader against the Diamondbacks, and will start again on Sunday.

“Honestly, it’s been week by week basis most of the season,” Grove said. “I just do what I am told. I am just trying to continue to get better by taking the positives in stride and learning from my mistakes.”

Grove made his Major League debut on May 15, at Dodger Stadium, against the Phillies. He worked 3.2 innings, allowing four hits and four unearned runs.

“Making that debut (start) was crazy in terms of nerves and emotions,” Grove said. “It was great that my family was able to make it out for that game. But once I got on the field, I was able to get past all of the emotions and things and just focus on pitching and trying to get big-league hitters out.”

He walked into the clubhouse that morning, saw his jersey hanging in his locker and admitted there was a whole gamut of emotions.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous walking into the clubhouse for the first time,” Grove offered. “Our organization is filled with so many really good guys and they really welcomed me with open arms. It really helped me to relax and feel at ease. I didn’t have to press or be tight.”

Of Grove’s five appearances, four have been starts. His lone appearance out of the pen came in a loss to Pittsburgh on June 1. He worked an inning and allowed three earned runs.

After that appearance, Grove was optioned back to the minor leagues until June 11 when he was recalled, but didn’t make an appearance. He was sent back to Oklahoma City on June 14.

“I didn’t pitch very well (in AAA) in May and June, but since their all-star break, I was pitching well,” Grove said.

Despite a stint on the injured list, while with Oklahoma City, which Grove said was “precautionary due to a forearm thing,” he was recalled on Aug. 29 to make a spot start in Miami. He had a very solid outing, working into the fifth. He gave up just an earned run and struck out four.

On Sept. 14, Grove was brought back up and has been up since. He worked five innings at Arizona on that day and allowed only two hits, which were both solo home runs, and he fanned four.

“For the most part, it’s been very positive,” Grove said of the feedback he’s received from Dodgers’ pitching coach Mark Prior and manager Dave Roberts. “You always take certain situations and dissect things like location and things. Just use each outing as a learning experience on how to get ahead of mistakes you make to minimize them as much as possible moving forward.”

Grove left his last start on the hook for a loss, but the Dodgers rallied in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead and eventually got the win to give the former Patriot All-Stater a no decision.

Grove worked five innings, which matched his season-high and struck out seven, while allowing three earned runs.

“I think I’ve pitched well the last couple of times out,” Grove said. “I was better (on Tuesday) than in my previous start. I’m getting more strikeouts and not walking a ton of guys. I did make some mistakes, which I just can’t make at this level. I have to clean some things up and hopefully minimize damage.”

During this latest stretch, Grove has not only been able to get some consistency in his life being in LA, but since he’s been around the clubhouse between starts he’d been able to pick the brains of some of the Dodgers’ veterans, including Clayton Kershaw.

“We have so many great players on our team that you can just sit in the dugout and pick up so many things from these guys,” Grove said. “I am trying my best to pick up as much as I can. Even talking to the position players is beneficial to get a thought process from the hitter’s perspective.”

Like most the season’s been for him, Grove is unsure about his schedule beyond Sunday’s start in the series finale against the Cardinals. The Dodgers have already clinched the NL West and won’t begin the playoffs until Oct. 11 in the divisional round.

“It’s unclear what’s going to happen, but I’m guessing that if I am not on the playoff roster, I’m going to be around (the club) in some capacity staying hot for the duration of the playoffs in case of injury,” Grove said.

That laser focus on the upcoming postseason is where all of the Dodgers currently are and because of that Grove wouldn’t even begin to speculate what the 2023 season may entail for him.

“We’ll handle (2023) when we get there,” Grove said. “Obviously, there are a lot of moves that will be made in the offseason, regardless of what happens in the playoffs. Those are things that sort themselves out a little bit more this winter.”

Regardless of what happens in the winter, Grove’s goals are unchanged.

“I just want to continue to get better and stick around (the Major Leagues) as long as possible,” Grove said.

SETH’S SCOOPS

IN COVERING the Worthington Christian at Barnesville football game on Friday, I came to realize that the Warriors coaching staff features three Ohio Valley natives. Included are Bellaire graduates Chad Magistro and Jason LaRoche as well as St. Clairsville product Jeff Mowery. Worthington Christian’s head coach is former Pittsburgh Steeler and Penn State Nittany Lion Jeff Hartings.

HARD TO believe, but the first OHSAA postseason begins this week with the golf tournament getting under way. The Division II sectional will be held on Monday with area teams competing at the Cadiz Country Club. The Division III sectional is slated for Cambridge Country Club on Wednesday. The Division II girls sectional will be staged at Carroll Meadows in Carrollton on Tuesday.

IT’S OVAC soccer championship week. The champions of boys and girls futbol will be crowned one week from today with the girls playing at St. Clairsville’s Red Devil Stadium and the boys playing at Wheeling Island Stadium. The semifinals in the tournament will be held throughout the week on the higher seed’s pitch.

Staskey can be reached via email at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com

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