There was a moment of life-altering decision for Patrick Doyle.
It happened on a football field when he was a student at Oakville High School. He was playing in a fall baseball travel league at the same time and his coach gave him an ultimatum. Football or baseball. He had to choose.
He couldn't miss the next few practices, and that's what would happen if he kept hanging around both sports.
Doyle knew without hesitation that baseball was his future. He walked off the field that day and never looked back. His father, however, wasn't on board as quickly.
"He felt football was my best sport. He was upset when I quit," Doyle,24, said Wednesday, a day after his first bullpen session in two months, due to a knee injury.
His decision proved right. In the 24th round of the 2010 MLB Draft the Cincinnatti Reds selected him out of Missouri State University. There were a lot of roads he could have taken. He also played hockey, which he admits was his favorite sport to play early in life.
"But it's really hard to get scholarships to play. Baseball just came more naturally to me. I'd always wanted to play pro baseball."
He began his professional career in 2010 in the Pioneer League, going 4-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 31 innings. In 2011 he level jumped three times, finishing with a career-high 85 innings under his belt.
Although he'd been a starter for as long as he'd played, when the Reds drafted him they switched him to a reliever. But the role of long reliever came fairly easy.
"Because I'd been a starter, I could handle going a few innings. I liked it."
The Reds had other plans and decided to give him a try again in the starting rotation in the second half of the season, but, he said, 'the ERA ballooned. That didn't work out.'
"I think every kid grows up and wants to be that guy out there starting the game. But once I became a reliever, I really established myself in the bullpen."
In May he was called on to make a spot starter in a double-header.
It was a spectacular performance.
He struck out sixteen batters, threw "around fifty pitches", and allowed just one hit in six innings.
"Everything was clicking. The other team was going up there hacking. They were aggressive, but so was I was. And my aggressiveness had them chasing."
It felt meaningful. But he wishes he'd capitalized on that success from there.
"I didn't take advantage of that opportunity as much as I would've liked."
The back-and-forth experiment is one teams have to approach carefully. They know that every inning matters, the clock is ticking on the development clock. Making a mistake with a player could slow their progress. Doyle simply did better in relief. And so the jump back to starting was nixed.
He played all of 2012 with the Bakersfield Blaze, finishing 9-5 with a 5.73 ERA, knowing what he needed to do to be a better reliever heading into spring training, and a new season.
"For me, the issues came in the later months. I was thinking too much, instead of staying with my muscle memory. I needed to throw my sinker more and get ground ball outs, not try to strike everyone out. That's not the kind of pitcher I am."
With the Blaze, who won the first half title, he also got to watch his longtime teammate Billy Hamilton on his way to making minor league history with 155 bases stolen in a single season .
"Billy is one of the most exciting players I've ever played with. Not just with speed, but how he can change a game. He was drafted a year before me and we came up together. It's been fun to watch him develop. To see him go from a switch-hitter to where he is now is incredible. And the plays I've seen him make and the things I've seen him do...it's ridiculous."
With the 2012 season behind him and his healing process going well, he's focused on getting a chance to play winter ball in Venezuela. His agent is working on feeling it out.
"They're going to try to get me there for the second half. I just need to keep healing. I'm hoping I can play there by December. And if spring training goes well, I hope I can start out at Double-A next year."
You can follow Patrick on Twitter @pdo32