Taken with the 18th overall pick in the first round by the Chicago White Sox in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Ring signed and was shipped a year later to the Mets with two other prospects in exchange for Roberto Alomar.Appearing in a total of 26 games for the Mets the past two seasons, Ring was 0-2 with a 3.47 ERA. But last year, he was brilliant in a small sample -- seven hits and three walks in 12 2/3 innings, holding hitters to a .156 average with a 2.13 ERA. He can get his fastball into the low 90s with the new arm angle he developed two years ago, complementing it with a curve, slider and changeup. Like every other young pitcher in camp, Ring is eager to spend quality time with the masters on the pitching staff -- Trevor Hoffman, Greg Maddux and David Wells. Each of the veterans, Ring feels, can impart wisdom that will be deposited in his memory bank for future withdrawals in the heat of the moment. "Hopefully, as camp continues and we get a little more into it, I can talk to those guys," Ring said. "The more you learn, the more you can excel and reach your maximum potential. The knowledge those three guys have, to be able to pick that up early, I can roll with it and have a great career. "Everybody wants to pitch in the big leagues 10-plus years, but not a lot of guys can do it. I'll do everything I can to create longevity." One thing he'll hear from all three Padres elders on the staff is sure to ring familiar: throw strikes. "You can't walk people," Ring said, having learned from experience in his debut season with the Mets, when he issued 10 free passes in 10 2/3 innings. "You're going to pay when you give guys free tickets to the basepaths. "It's always been big for me, throwing strikes, all the way back to Little League. The more strikes you throw, the longer you can stay in the game." Ring said he doesn't care what his role is, as long as he makes the 25-man roster. If it means getting one left-handed hitter in a key situation, he's game. "If that's my job for the next 10 years," he said, grinning, "it's fine with me."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.