Diamond dreamin'

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:06 PM ET

Chris Reitsma knows it's tempting to put the cart before the horse.

It's tempting to dream about the World Series when the playoffs are realized. Especially when you're on the verge of a debut in the major-league post-season.

But the Calgarian knows better. And he has told excited family members as much.

"We would love to see him pitch in the World Series," said Reitsma's dad Mike, thrilled by the prospect of seeing his 26-year-old son in the game's final showdown. "But he says to me, 'Well ... dad, don't count your chickens before they're hatched.' "

"Of course, you're thinking World Series," continued Reitsma's mom Ruth. "But even just being in the playoffs is such an honour, right? It's so fun. It's very exciting."

The excitement begins today for the righthander Reitsma and the Braves with Game 1 of the NL Divisional Series against the Astros (2 p.m.).

The best-of-five affair is a first playoff taste for the fourth-year big leaguer and graduate of Calgary's Babe Ruth baseball system.

And the Astros, the hottest team in baseball with its Killer B's batting order, offer quite the challenging first foray for Reitsma, despite a banner season as the Braves' primary set-up pitcher.

"Hey ... they've got some big hitters on that Houston team and Chris has not done historically well against them," said Mike Reitsma.

"They've all (tagged) him, so I'm sure he's gearing himself up for facing them."

The Calgary Christian high school grad will be armed, of course, with an elite change-up to complement a strong fastball.

It's a combination the Braves hoped Reitsma would bring to the fore when they acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds for two prospects just a week before the start of the regular season.

And he fulfilled expectations, finishing the regular season with the most appearances (84) on the Braves pitching staff, a 6-4 record, two saves and a 4.07 earned-run average.

In fact, he's become an ideal set-up man for high-profile reliever John Smoltz and a big reason why the Braves are among the favourites to win it all this fall.

"The Braves, of course, have that tremendous tradition," said dad Mike.

"Bobby Cox and winning 13 straight (NL East) pennants as a record for all sports is something amazing."

But more amazing for the Reitsmas would be a World Series celebration.

They remain, after all, his biggest fans.

"We tell him we pray for him every day," said Ruth.

Added dad: "As a father, I'm going to say to him, 'Hey ... kid, you're going to do it -- I believe you're going to do it but if you don't I'll still love you.

"As a fan -- and, of course, I'm his No. 1 fan -- I think he can do it. And as a friend, I want to be there at all times and certainly support him."


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