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After a long road from Buffalo, Royals' Guthrie gets to World Series mound tonight in San Francisco

The World Series continues tonight with Game Three at AT&T Park in San Francisco and a familiar face to Buffalo fans will be on the mound for the Kansas City Royals.

Veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who struggled mightily for parts of his first 2 1/2 seasons in Buffalo before becoming a dependable starter with the Herd, will pitch against Giants veteran Tim Hudson is a battle of long-time MLB pitchers making their first start in the Fall Classic.

Guthrie was a fascinating personality to deal with in his time here. He was a No. 1 draft choice out of Stanford and freely gave of his time, winning the Bisons' 2006 Fremo Vallone Community Service Award for his work with local chapters of Meals on Wheels and the team's youth baseball camps. He loved to play chess, loved to ride a bike, loved to collect shoes.

He spoke fluent Spanish (he served as Yordano Ventura's interpretor during a news conference Tuesday in Kansas City). This was a guy that went on a two-year Mormon mission to Spain after a freshman year at BYU -- pushing baseball aside for that entire time.

Here's Guthrie's stats from his time in Buffalo

Year     Age  GP  GS  W-L    ERA    IP    BB    K
2003      24    18   18     4-9      6.52   96.2   30  62
2004      25       4    4     1-2      7.91    19.1    18   10
2005      26    25  25    12-10   5.08  136.1  49 100
2006      27   21   20     9-5     3.14   123.1  48  88

Guthrie's Buffalo career was a long and winding road.

He struggled under the weight of expectations of being a No. 1 pick in 2003, and couldn't stick with the Herd in '04, spending most of his time back in Double-A Akron. The 2005 season started even more disastrously, as he went 1-4 with a 9.31 ERA in his first five starts. In one game, he was hammered by Pawtucket and gave up two home runs in the same inning to Kelly Shoppach, still the only time a batter has done that in an inning in Buffalo.

A few weeks later, he was frustrated by a meeting with the team's coaching staff and bolted the clubhouse, leaving some kicks of the door in his wake. Manager Marty Brown liked seeing the competitive fire, even if Guthrie was risking the health of his foot.

(Guthrie didn't like seeing the situation discussed in print, and pretty much never talked to me again even though he was fine with several other reporters from The News. No biggie really. It happens from time to time in this gig.)

Back on the mound, Guthrie finally started pitching to contact and throwing more strikes and his results improved for the remainder of '05 and all of '06, when he dropped his ERA by nearly two runs.

Guthrie pitched five shutout innings in the 2006 home opener, a 9-1 rout of Columbus. He pitched a brilliant one-hitter against Louisville later that year as well.

"That understanding that everything that happened to me was happening for a reason, helped me to continue to grind through it, to push," Guthrie said during a news conference Friday in San Francisco. "And when it did click for me at the end of '05 in Triple‑A, I was able to run with it.  Carried that through 2006 in the minor leagues.

"Went and played winter ball, a decision that I made because I knew it would give me the opportunity to maybe get on a Major League team.  And eventually I was released by the Indians, claimed by the Orioles.  Gave up one run in spring training, and eight years later I get a chance to pitch in a World Series game. So life, baseball, everybody has a story.  I'm no different."

Guthrie has struggled in the big leagues at times, having a pair of 17-loss seasons for Baltimore and going 3-9 two years ago for Colorado. His big-league record is 83-100 and his career ERA is 4.22. You can see his career stats here.

But his career was revived by the 2012 trade that sent him from Colorado to Kansas City for Jonathan Sanchez. Out of the altitude of Denver and alongside Royals pitching guru Dave Eiland, Guthrie has found a niche many years in the making.

He was an enigma in Buffalo, a clear talent with athletic ability and a great mind that never seemed to mesh when he was here. Good for him that he's persevered to reach the mound tonight.

 

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