MANCHESTER — Big right-hander Deck McGuire picked up where he left off last August and got the 2014 season off to just the start he wanted last Friday night in Trenton.
He’ll try to follow that debut up in start No. 2 tonight in Reading.
“Any time the season starts off well, it’s always easy to go into the next game with a positive mentality,” McGuire said on Tuesday from Reading. “I’ll just try to build on it and get more consistency out of my breaking ball. It was OK. But it wasn’t where I’d like it to be.”
His fastball was the key in his 5-1/3 inning stint against Trenton in which he allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three in what turned into a 7-3 win.
“I think the best thing about it was how good my fastball command was,” McGuire said. “That usually takes a little longer for me.”
The Fisher Cats close out their season-opening road-trip with tonight’s game and then head back to town for their home opener on Thursday night at 6:35 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Righty Austin Bibens-Dirkx is due to get the start in that one.
The hometown crowd is slated to see the Fisher Cats’ big two at the top of the rotation — 6-foot-4 righty Aaron Sanchez and 6-foot-6 McGuire — on Sunday and Monday against New Britain.
Sanchez’s impressive Opening Day start in Trenton helped give McGuire a lift.
“I think having Aaron go off first and have the start he had lit the competitive fires,” McGuire said. “I wanted to go out and match his effort.”
Sanchez gave up one hit, struck out five and walked one in his five innings of a 1-0 win at Trenton in his Double-A debut to kick off the season.
McGuire, 24, and Sanchez, 21, were both taken by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2010 draft. McGuire went on pick No. 11 out of Georgia Tech University and Sanchez on pick No. 34 out of high school in Barstow, Calif.
McGuire first arrived in New Hampshire at the tail end of the 2011 season and won two of his three decisions. He struggled in 2012 and finished 10-15 with a 5.88 earned run average.
Last season, he went 9-10 with a 4.86 ERA and came on at the end of the year.
“I thought it was a big step forward from the year before and I finished the year real strong with a good last month,” McGuire said.
He won four of his six starts in August and gave up two hits in each of his last two starts of the season. The highlight was a 7-2 win at New Britain on Aug. 14 in which he gave up six hits, struck out six and walked no one in his second complete game for the Fisher Cats and first since 2011.
McGuire was fourth in the league with 143 strikeouts last season and was second on the team in innings pitched with 157-1/3 innings to the 162-1/3 of Marcus Walden.
He had 97 strikeouts in 2012 in 144 innings and walked 62. He walked 59 in 2013.
The speculation was that last year’s work, and the finish in particular, might earn McGuire a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo to start the season.
“That’s not really my call,” McGuire said.
Instead, he’ll attempt to keep making his mark with the Fisher Cats.
“Every time you go out, you try to put the team in a position to win,” he said. “You give them as many innings as you can. We have a bunch of fresh guys in the bullpen and you try to keep the team in the game and turn it over to them. It’s just that comfort level. I felt real comfortable in the first game and everything was under control and good.”
He looks to keep it that way tonight.