Games » Minnesota TwinsSep1
The Kansas City Star
They just finished game one of today’s doubleheader. I now have about 40 minutes to go to manager Ned Yost’s between-game meeting with the press, put the numbers into the system and write a summary of all the important (or at least interesting) plays I just witnessed.
Guess what? It ain’t happenin’.
Here’s the plan: I’ll put the game one numbers into the system, throw in a couple of bits from the last few days and then try to summarize both games tonight. Which means I’ll be up till 1 or 2 a.m. — if we don’t have rain delays. Then I’ll be here at 9:40 a.m. Sunday when the clubhouse opens. Most days this is a pretty enjoyable gig. Today feels like work.
Too much to watch
The other night, Billy Butler got thrown out at home trying to advance on a ball that went to the back stop. Former umpire Steve Palermo, who sits next to me most nights, commented on the great play by the kid behind the plate. I would not have called Tiger catcher Gerald Laird a kid, but I said, yeah, heads-up play by the catcher.
But Steve wasn’t talking about the catcher. He was talking about the umpire, Manny Gonzalez. Steve told me that Gonzalez had maneuvered the hitter, Mike Moustakas, out of the way and then got in perfect position to make the call on Billy. I wasn’t aware there was an umpire in the vicinity of the plate until he called Butler out. I was too busy watching the ball.
Whenever people tell me baseball is slow and boring, I tell them there are so many things happening on the field, I don’t know where to look. Should I watch the outfielders adjust their defensive alignments? How about the infield and their setup? Or the cutoff and relay men on balls hit to the outfield? How about the signs that are being flashed all over the place? The base runner’s lead? The pitcher and whether he delivers the ball out of a slide step? The catcher’s mitt to see how much it moves when receiving the pitch? The radar gun reading? All that going on and now Palermo wants me to watch the umpires?
There’s always something happening at a ball game if you know where to look.
You might already know that pitching coach Dave Eiland has made adjustments to Jeremy Guthrie’s pitching motion. Eiland and Guthrie have added a more pronounced inward turn (front knee moving back toward second base), and I recently had a chance to ask Dave more about the effects of that adjustment.
The inward turn helps Jeremy get his weight back and over the rubber. It also hides the ball longer. Dave imitated Jeremy’s old motion, and I could see the pitching hand the entire time. With a slight clockwise twist, the pitching hand disappeared until it came out from behind Dave’s head.
The change in glove position, combined with the turn, also allows Guthrie to get the ball out of his glove on time. In the old motion — hands together at the chest — the ball was coming out of the glove as Jeremy moved forward. That meant his body was too far out in front of his arm and the resulting release point kept the ball on a higher, more even plane.
Now Guthrie is taking the ball out earlier, the turn keeps him back longer, the arm has a chance to get on top and ball is delivered in a sharper downward plane. If the only thing a hitter sees is the top of the ball, he’s got a better chance of hitting it on the ground.
Eiland said Guthrie was one of the guys on his wish list. He liked his stuff and thought if he ever got a chance to work with Jeremy, he could help him. So far, so good. It’s amazing what big results come from small adjustments.
Recently, Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer sat down with me and talked about his hitting philosophy and how that’s played out in 2012. We talked about hitting for average versus hitting for power, the criticism that the Royals don’t walk enough, why high team batting average hasn’t translated into more runs and why it’s important for a hitter to be able to swing and miss on purpose. (The answer’s pretty interesting.)
We made a video of the conversation, and we soon will post it here on the site. We had to cut the discussion up into several parts, and we’re still figuring out the best way to present those videos. But don’t miss them. If you want to understand what the Royals are attempting to do and how that’s been playing out this season, you’ll want to see these videos.