Garcia Playing The Role Of VeteranPosted: May 2, 2011
I don’t know about you, but heading into this season, I was not expecting much out of Freddy Garcia. Sure he wasn’t awful for the White Sox last year as their number five, but he was still aging and I doubted the fact that he would be able to survive in the American League East with a fastball averaging 87 miles per hours. But boy has he proved me wrong…so far.
Freddy has pitched quite nicely going 2-0 and posting a 2.00 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and striking out 7.5 per nine innings. This isn’t bad for a guy who started the season as the number five, is it? Well, he has been doing more. Joel Sherman of the NY Post writes:
When I was at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, a member of the team told me something I found interesting: After Ivan Nova’s poor relief appearance on April 19 in Toronto, Freddy Garcia pulled the young righty aside. Usually pitchers pair up with the same partner every day to play catch and Garcia and Nova are partners. Garcia asked Nova what pitch he thought was most important to his repertoire. Nova replied his curveball. So Garcia told Nova that the youngster was not working on the pitch enough. So Garcia said this is what would be done moving forward: While the two played catch, Nova would flip 40-plus curveballs. Garcia’s point was that catch is not just about loosening an arm or keeping it fit. The idea is never to do anything without meaning. Garcia wanted Nova to get such a good feel for the curve that he could throw it in any count comfortably.
On Sunday against the Blue Jays – the team that crushed him in relief a few weeks earlier – Nova struck out five: The finishing pitches on each were curves and three of those were called third strikes. With runners on in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth, Nova recorded the final out of the inning with his curve.
So Garcia is pitching very well, but just as or even more important, he is mentoring younger players on the team. Ivan Nova was a little confidence in his curveball away from taking this big of a step. Sure I am working with a very small sample of two starts and Nova could still revert back to his old ways, but for the time being, he is being more effective than ever and it’s thanks to Garcia’s mentoring.