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Pitcher Ryan Ledbetter joins Spokane a year after twin brother David

Indians' pitcher Ryan Ledbetter, second from left, finished 3-0 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 innings over 15 games for the Rangers’ Arizona League rookie team last season. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Indians' pitcher Ryan Ledbetter, second from left, finished 3-0 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 innings over 15 games for the Rangers’ Arizona League rookie team last season. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Chrisd@Spokesman.Com (509) 459-5502

It’s downright eerie to check out Ryan and David Ledbetter’s statistics on milb.com.

Even Ryan had to laugh Wednesday at Avista Stadium when he took a side-by-side glance at the photos accompanying the pitching numbers that he and his identical twin David have compiled.

The photos, especially the squinting eyes and friendly smiles, look like duplicates. Only slight nuances, such as how the two wear their baseball caps and the tilt of their heads, reflect that these are different players.

But the Ledbetters have never attempted to run away from their fate as identical twins, going so far as to plan their weddings on Dec. 28 one year apart. Their wives were best friends before becoming relatives.

There are more similarities between the Ledbetters. Both pitched for Cedarville (Ohio) University, both were drafted last season by the Texas Rangers, and now both have the Spokane Indians in common.

Ryan, a reliever, has joined the Indians this summer after his brother worked as a starter for Spokane’s 2013 Northwest League club.

“David told me to enjoy (Spokane),” Ryan said. “He said, ‘You’ve never thrown in front of a crowd this big.’ … He’s an encouraging guy, and it just goes back and forth from being brothers.”

Ryan pitched for the Rangers’ Arizona League rookie team last season after being drafted in the 19th round. He finished 3-0 with a 4.26 earned-run average in 19 innings over 15 games.

The twins started this season together at Hickory (N.C.) of the Single-A South Atlantic League. They appeared in the same game twice, including an April 5 outing in which David started and Ryan earned the win in relief.

Ten days later, Ryan was working his third inning of relief on a frigid night when he sprained his wrist.

“I think it was 34 degrees,” Ryan said. “It was whacky. I was just throwing and, boom, it hurt. I came out of the game and … that’s when I said, ‘Something’s not right here.’ ”

After logging less than six innings this season, Ryan was sent to extended spring training to recuperate. David was also sent down after a May 13 loss dropped his record to 1-4 with an ERA of 8.26.

It’s not far-fetched to imagine David returning to Spokane this summer in his attempt to work his way back to Hickory.

“He’s been struggling a little bit and I think it’s a mind game with him,” Ryan said. “I’ll be excited when he comes back and plays some games against some good competition, gets back in the zone.”

Ryan’s major goals this season are to become more consistent in throwing low strikes and being confident in all of his pitches.

“I’ll be ready the first game of the season to go out and throw,” he said. “That’s all that I can do.”

Ryan’s wife Maddie visited Spokane this week as the Indians held a three-day workout to prepare for tonight’s season opener with Eugene.

“It’s hard being away from her in this profession, because you’re always leaving for someplace else,” Ryan said. “We live in Indiana and she stays in Indiana. That’s difficult, but at the same time, how many times do you get an opportunity like this?”

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