Published in San Diego Union Tribune by Dennis Lin
Thursday's series opener at Petco Park pitted a piece of the Padres' future, 25-year-old Colin Rea, against a face from their past, now-Dodgers starter Mat Latos.
Meanwhile, a tall right-hander from Texas spent just his second day in a San Diego uniform. Uncommon perspective, he already had.
Both because of where he's been and because of where he could go, Jon Edwards is a compelling story. The primary return from Will Venable's trade to the Rangers last month, Edwards was recalled from Triple-A El Paso on Wednesday.
Back in 2011, he was a former outfielder playing in the independent Pecos League, pitching for $50 a week. As recently as Dec. 15, he was a 26-year-old faced with life-changing news.
Edwards found out he had testicular cancer on a Monday. He underwent surgery that Thursday, doctors removing a swollen testicle.
The cancer had not spread elsewhere. Within three weeks, Edwards was throwing again.
"I've had good, clean reports ever since," Edwards, now 27, said. "I think the doctor anticipated it being a lot worse than what ended up happening, so it was really nothing short of a miracle."
When he first learned of his diagnosis, Edwards said, he reflected on what he had.
"I just remember thinking that I needed to be joyful and be thankful," Edwards said.
Nearly nine months later, Edwards has a new opportunity. He made his major league debut with the Rangers in 2014 and was up briefly again earlier this year, compiling a 5.02 ERA over a total of 14 2/3 innings (he recorded 15 strikeouts but also 13 walks). Now, he'll attempt to prove that he can indeed compete at this level.
This season, in 36 2/3 innings between Triple-A Round Rock and El Paso, he posted a 1.23 ERA, 23 saves and 51 strikeouts (against 11 walks). It has been the most encouraging progress to date in a still-young pitching career.
"Iím quick to always boast in the Lord and give all the credit and glory to Him," Edwards said. "The difference is itís just given me confidence. I think every time you go out there you have to have confidence and believe you can do it and that you belong."
A 14th-round draft selection in 2006, Edwards was released by his first organization, the Cardinals, in 2010.
"I called up a guy in San Angelo (of the independent North American League) and just told him I just wanted to play, I would pitch, I would play wherever," Edwards recalled.
After a tryout that included both batting practice and a bullpen session, he began transitioning to the mound. In 2011, he had a brief stint with with Alpine of the Pecos League. In 2012, the Rangers signed him to a minor league deal. Last year, Edwards became the first Pecos alum to reach the majors.
At 6-feet-5, Edwards has mid-90s velocity that eventually could play near the back of a major league bullpen. For now, he will work in short, middle-inning stints for the Padres.
"Iíve heard my fastball was more of my command pitch," he said. "Itís actually kind of the opposite. My sliderís more my command pitch. The fastballís been more something Iíve worked on, trying to establish that, be aggressive with it early in the count, just to put hitters in swing mode, just make them feel really aggressive so I can go to the slider."
Edwards also throws a curveball, which he says he uses as a change-up.
Life threw him one of those last December, then another in spring training: Edwards and his wife, Katelyn, are expecting their first child in early November.
"Weíre really excited," Edwards said, "just to see all the good things God has in store for us."