The players have all left the Peoria Sports Complex and gone home for the day. Manager John McLaren said it was good, for a first-day workout, noting that he had to tell several players (mostly veterans) to show a little less adrenaline than they were. McLaren was talking about J.J. Putz, Arthur Rhodes and others he doesn’t want to see wear their arms out too early. Rhodes is coming off an injury and Putz, well, he’s Putz and no one wants him using his arm up on meaningless practise days.
A look down at the photo below sees Putz in the center, chatting with McLaren on the left and bullpen coach Norm Charlton (speaking of adrenaline and getting too pumped up) on the right. Putz was just about to begin his first throwing session of the spring.
Another player on the “tone it down” list was Mark Lowe, who is also coming back from serious arm problems and threw today. I asked Lowe afterwards how he felt this spring compared to his aborted major league comeback attempt last fall and he told me it was a night and day difference. He could barely pick a ball up the day after pitching in last season’s second half. The M’s would like Lowe to regain his form from two years ago and become a late-inning answer. But it’s far too early to tell how that will turn out.
Had a nice chat with Eric O’Flaherty about trying to become the team’s situational lefty, replacing George Sherrill. O’Flaherty is working overtime on his change-up, which should help him boost his numbers against right handed bats. O’Flaherty (thanks to maxpower in the comments section for pointing out that I’d at first put Sherril’s name to O’Flaherty’s stats) held lefties to a .183 batting average last season, escaping several bases loaded jams in the process. But righties hit .277 off him. Sherrill was so valuable because he could also record outs against right handers when needed and that’s something O’Flaherty wants to do more consistently.
His change-up fades away softly from righties and gives them a much different look than his fastball and slider — which are only five miles apart. That means hitters can dig-in and time their swings. Not if O’Flaherty becomes better at throwing his change-up in any count.
“I think it’s going to be an important pitch to throw to righties,” he said. “When I was throwing it good last year, I was getting some strikeouts on it.”
Hear more of what O’Flaherty had to say on it right here.
Time to say “Sayanora!” for this afternoon. We’ll do it by closing off with a photo below of catcher Kenji Johjima and his translator, Antony Suzuki.