Early Monday clubhouse notes: Bob McClure defends the windup from Bobby Valentine’s attacks
|03.12.12 at 9:56 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was an intriguing suggestion, made late on Friday night. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was taking stock of the outing of reliever Junichi Tazawa, and he was admittedly puzzled by the fact that a pitcher who is being evaluated solely as a reliever had been using a windup.
After all, Tazawa operated solely out of the stretch when he came to the U.S. from Japan. The windup has been a work-in-progress for him since the day he started pitching in the Red Sox system, and it remains so — part of the reason that the Sox believe that he is a reliever rather than a starter.
But Valentine did not merely suggest that it was odd for Tazawa to use the windup. He expanded his assessment to all pitchers.
“I’m not a believer in the windup, period. I don’t get it,” said Valentine. “You throw your most important pitches of the game out of the stretch so you have to be more effective out of the stretch. Men are on base when you’re pitching out of the stretch so if that’s where you can throw your best pitches, why are you teaching yourself to throw twice, two different ways?
“It’s a crazy thought but I think if we were just starting the game right now, we wouldn’t teach anybody a windup. You could break a hitters’ rhythm with your stretch if there’s no one on base. You could quick pitch, quick step, you could have a big step. You’re always in the same cadence out of the windup. It’s the easiest thing for a hitter to time. And it’s difficult.
There’s a lot of moving parts. Take a guy like Daniel Bard who throws a 100 miles an hour out of the stretch. Is he going to throw 106 out of the windup? Probably not. But I know it’s not going to happen. Another lifetime, it will all come to pass.’
Valentine noted that when he was managing in Japan, a number of pitchers operated without benefit of the windup. That included a couple of prominent pitchers who have come across the Pacific to pitch in the majors.
“I worked over on the other side of the pond where starting pitchers didn’t have windups,” said Valentine. “[Hideo] Nomo pitched a no-hitter at Coors Field out of a stretch. You know? [Yu] Darvish might not pitch out of a windup. He doesn’t necessarily need it. It’s just one of those things. Just another stupid statement late at night. Somebody will say, can you believe that idiot said that?’
Valentine’s proposition was put to Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure, someone who tends to focus on the importance of a pitcher’s legs, feet and direction to the plate as an important mechanism for reducing stress on a pitcher’s money makers — chiefly, his shoulder and elbow.
To his mind, why do pitchers use the windup?
“Generating power. It’s why guys do it,” said McClure, who noted that the windup allows pitchers to generate power from parts of their body other than their arms, thus reducing stress. “There’s more fluidity, more rhythm, it’s less mechanical. Normally, the windup is so you can get all your body parts moving.
“He wasn’t a pitcher,” added McClure, “so I don’t know if he’d understand that.”
OTHER MORNING CLUBHOUSE NOTES
— Here’s the Red Sox lineup for today’s game against the Marlins at JetBlue Park:
Beckett, SP, slated for four innings. Andrew Bailey and Ross Ohlendorf are both scheduled to make their first appearances of the spring in relief.
Here is the group that will go to Tampa Bay to play the Yankees on Tuesday night:
— Outfielder Carl Crawford thought that he might swing one-handed and do some throwing today as he follows a gradual program to return from his injured left wrist.
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