PHOENIX -- Arizona closer Addison Reed stopped dipping June 16, the day his coach at San Diego State, Tony Gwynn, lost his battle with salivary gland cancer, a disease he attributed solely to his use of smokeless tobacco. Since then, Reed is pitching well and feeling better.
Reed recorded his 100th career save Friday, his 10th straight conversion, and ranks tied in the NL with 31 saves in his first season with the Diamondbacks. Reed's strong stretch certainly has more to do with fastball location and command of his slider, but he does say that he has never felt stronger or healthier.
"Obviously I'm 100 percent happy with myself that I am not doing it anymore," Reed told FOXSportsArizona.com.
"I can't say that it is going to kill you, but it definitely increases your odds of something bad happening. Anything that I can do to try to extend my life I am going to try to do. You think it is easy to quit. I can't even count how many times I told myself that today was going to be the last day, or next month was going to be the last month. And the next thing you know, seven or eight years down the road...
"I got hooked on it. At times, I felt like I had to have one in. I couldn't do the next task in my day unless I put one in. I couldn't drive home from the field without putting one in. I couldn't watch a baseball game without putting one in. When you think about it, that was not the way I wanted to live my life. I don't want to be 'I can only do this unless I throw in a dip.'"
Gwynn's passing seemed to flip a switch. Reed, 25, threw the seven cans of smokeless tobacco in his locker into the trash can in the D-backs' clubhouse when he heard the news about Gwynn, and also emptied his pickup of tobacco products.
"So the only way I could get one is if I asked somebody for one," Reed told the web site. "As long as I didn't ask, I wasn't going to have one. Now, I honestly feel I can do anything without thinking about it.
"Every now and then, I will be sitting there and I'll be like 'this is the time I used to throw in a dip.' Definitely the thought creeps in my head. Once I tell myself that I am not going to do it and a couple of minutes passes, I'm glad that I didn't. I'm trying to stop for good, so I don't want to be 10 years down the road and throw one in
and say I'm only having one. Right now it seems to be going good, and I hope it continues."
Reed was told that he might gain weight by turning to a tobacco substitute, but he is the same weight as when he quit. He has shed some ERA. Since June 27, Reed has converted 14 of 16 save opportunities with a 2.70 ERA. He has 24 strikeouts in 20 innings, and opponents are hitting .181 against him. After giving up eight home runs into late June, he has given up only two home runs since.
With a 1-2-3 ninth inning to save a 5-2 victory over Colorado on Friday, Reed became the sixth-youngest closer to reach 100 saves since the stat became official in 1969. Francisco Rodriguez, Craig Kimbrel, Chad Cordero, Gregg Olson and Ugueth Urbina are the only players younger. Olson beat Reed by 40 days, Urbina by 26.
"He's in pretty elite company," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.