Marty Noble at MLB.com posted some great news this weekend and it seems that the Mets are going to make throwing strikes a top priority this spring with the hope that it carries over to the regular season come Opening Day.
At least we now know why the Mets walked the second most batters in the majors last season… Apparently nobody told them they had to throw strikes…
Luckily for us, Jerry Manuel won’t be taking any chances this year. It’s all about location, location, location.
“We need to throw strikes. You don’t want them just throwing and letting it fly. We want focus on the strike zone early and often … and late, as well.”
Even pitching coach Dan Warthen got into the act,
“They’ll be given folders with their own charts,” Warthen said. “They’ll see. We might use them to look at patterns, too. But the emphasis has to be on throwing strikes — quality strikes.”
Noble reminds us that it was pitching coach Dan Warthen, then the Mariners’ pitching coach, that helped turn Randy Johnson from a wild and undisciplined pitching prospect into one of the games ultimate strike-out kings and future Hall of Famer. The Big Unit has thanked Warthen publicly for his guidance on several occasions.
Johan Santana is even willing to take Mets’ resident wild thing, Oliver Perez, under his tutelage to help the lefthander find his form and start earning the big bucks on his three year deal.
“He looks better. We talked about approach when I got here two years ago. Now I talk to him about motivation and how much we need him. I talk about being serious to him. He can have fun when he wants to, he can jump over the foul line. But we need him to be serious when he’s on the mound. We need him to be consistent, so if he pitches a good game today, we get the same kind of game from him in five days. We talk a lot about that.”
That’s some damn good advice from our ace, and hopefully it won’t fall on deaf ears this time around. I believe that all this focus on throwing strikes is a huge step in the right direction.
On another note, once again the Mets had Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax on hand to greet the pitchers and offer some veteran advice.
If the theme of this year’s spring camp is “Strikeouts” and “K’s”, why couldn’t we have Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver or the original Dr. K, Dwight Gooden, on hand instead?
The Mets have two of the most renowned strikeout kings in baseball history in Gooden and Seaver. What a thrill it would have been to have them show up at Mets camp and share their stories of the miracle of ’69 and the dominance of ’86.