After spending a few days on the disabled list this month, with a touch of pneumonia, righthander Shawn Haviland didn't waste time reestablishing himself as a solid starter.
He tossed a four-hitter on June 8, the first complete-game shutout of his Pawtucket Red Sox career in the win over Buffalo.
"I guess it's a little overdue," Haviland said that night. "I haven't pitched in the ninth since college probably. It was definitely exciting."
Haviland, the Farmington native who graduated from Harvard in 2008, retired the first eight batters, striking out five in a row after the initial out in the first inning. After Ian Parmley's two-out double in the third, Haviland set down 14 of the next 16 hitters.
It was an important start for a pitcher who has never been to the major leagues in his 10-year career.
"This spring, I actually got into a major league game," Haviland said. "I came on in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, and struck out the side. That was pretty exciting for me. It took me 10 years and nine spring trainings before I finally got into a major league game. I got into three this spring and even started one against the Tampa Rays, who pretty much put their everyday lineup out there."
Haviland, 31, is a prime example of a player reluctant to quit on his dream. Originally drafted in the 33rd round by the Athletics, Haviland has also played with the White Sox, Indians and Red Sox organizations. He also spent time with the New Britain Bees in 2016.
"I may have been in some places at the wrong time; Oakland got very good with a young rotation, just as I was getting close to the majors," Haviland said. "With the White Sox, I was there in a year when all of their starters made at least 28 starts, which is unheard of.
"It's a lot about luck. It's frustrating not to have made it up there yet, but I am proud that I will have over 1,000 minor league innings. That doesn't happen unless you are someone who takes the game seriously and is a good teammate."
Coming into this weekend, Haviland has thrown 1,013 minor league innings with a record of 47-65. This season with Pawtucket, he is 2-4 with a 3.09 ERA, allowing 54 hits in 65 innings.
"The reason I have been able to stick around is that I've been able to get a little bit better each year," Haviland said. "When I was drafted, I was a guy who pitched in the mid-80s. In the early part of my career, I was able to throw a little harder. Now that I am older, I have found the balance between my pitch selection, trying to play to my strength as opposed to the hitter's weakness. It took me longer to get to that place than it should have, but ultimately I think I am there now to attack any lineup, any hitter at any time."
Haviland's degree from Harvard is in government. But as proud as he is about it, he's in no hurry to try to capitalize on it in the private sector.
"The answer that I always give is that I plan to never have to use it because I want to have a long major league career," Haviland said of his degree. "But in a realistic sense, my passion has always been baseball. My wife will make fun of me. We'll have a doubleheader and I'll be at the field for 14 hours and then I come home and turn on a baseball game."
Haviland attended Farmington High and his father, Tim, played baseball at UConn. In 2006, Shawn Haviland was named Ivy League pitcher of the year one season after helping the Crimson win the league championship and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
"Whenever I am done playing, whether it's after this year or in another 10 years, I want to stay involved in the game in some capacity," Haviland said. "I haven't really developed the plan yet, but I definitely believe that baseball will be a part of my life."
Haviland said his optimistic view of his baseball career was developed in high school.
"I don't know if it was the result of blind confidence or what, but I was pretty sure I wanted to go professional from high school on," Haviland said. "Even though I wasn't throwing 95 all the time, I just had the confidence that I could do it. That has carried me through to today. I am significantly happier doing what I am doing than I would have been otherwise.
"It gets harder. My oldest child is in school now. It's more time away from my family. That factors into the equation and my wife and I talk about [retirement] every winter. A lot of it will be dictated by my success this season, whether I am able to make the majors this year. Mostly, I just think about today, what I can do to make my next start go well. I definitely know I am the type of person who will be happier and more successful if I am doing something that I am passionate about."