The 0-0 count
Building off of last week we will finish out our discussion on the pitch count. The one pitch we have yet to address is the 0-0 count, the first pitch. For long as a baseball has been around there are really only two ways of thinking about the first pitch. Some of the most patient hitters have held the thought to look at the first pitch in order to see what the pitcher's got. They believe that if hitting is really timing, they will have a better gauge of the pitchers speed after seeing a pitch. Rick Down an ex-MLB and Minor League hitting coach believes the opposite for two reasons: the first being that a hitter should have been paying attention on the on deck circle, with the exception being the first batter of the game although they should have time to watch the pitcher during his warmup. Rick's point is study the pitcher, know the pitcher, he is your adversary.
The second and most important reason is that from little league to the Major Leagues pitchers are taught to get ahead in the count! Rick and others. myself personally, look at the 0-0 pitch like the 2-0 pitch, if you get your fastball in the zone.. crush it. Take a good hack. If you miss it, its 0-1 and you have two strikes left. IF you don't like the pitch then let it go, and atlas you now have seen a peek at what the pitcher has. At bats are short and we don't want to let our pitch to hit go by.
Pitch to Your Strengths
When you’re on the mound, there are a lot of different ways you can pitch to a hitter. In the last tip, I talked about recognizing and analyzing the batter and throwing based off of that information. Here is another approach that is easier for a pitcher to utilize during a game.
Every pitcher should know what type of pitcher they are: Fastball dominant, off-speed dominant, pitching backwards, etc. This approach focuses on always pitching to your strengths and not the hitter’s weaknesses. Not only is this good physically, but mentally its confidence boosting knowing you’re throwing your best stuff to try and get the hitter out. This is basically saying that my best stuff can beat your best swing. Having a pitcher with this mindset and approach is a very strong tool to have on a team.
Don't look at catching bullpens as punishment or anything negative. Bullpens will most likely last longer than an actual game inning (based on number of pitchers and pitches they are throwing), so they can begin to get tiring. The mentality of "The pitcher is using me to get better" should be thrown out. It goes both ways. Take a bullpen seriously and work on your game. It is time to utilize all the different drills in a game-like situation. Full gear should always be worn. The worst thing a catcher catching a bullpen can do is only wear a mask. The pitcher won't be able to trust you to block a ball when it comes to a game and you aren't working on anything by letting a pitch that hits the ground end up by the backstop or the fence.
Some tips while catching a bullpen:
- Listen to the coach talk to the pitcher. You can use this information in a game without the coach having to come out to the mound.
- Don't set up down the middle. If the pitcher is working on location (which he should be), then set up like you would in a game for an inside or outside pitch. If the coach tells you to set up down the middle to practice throwing breaking balls for strikes, then do it, but off-set just an inch or two so it's not directly down the middle.
- Work on receiving, giving signs, framing, secondary position, footwork for throwing to bases, blocking, etc. There is always something to work on.
- Be encouraging. Tell a pitcher good job when it applies. Get excited when they hit their spot.
Remember, a bullpen isn't just for the pitcher; it's also for the catcher. Use your time effectively.
The Groundball Series-Part 5
The forehand is a play that can separate average to above average infielders. It is a play that coaches and scouts will use to evaluate the athleticism and range of infielders. We have already discussed the forehand fielding position (Week 11_30). One of the keys to a forehand is the first and second step. The first step better be quick and you need to get a good read on the ball. The second step needs to be in line to where the ball is going. If the second step is “short” and doesn’t take you to the ball, it will run right by you. The first two steps need to be aggressive to where the ball is going so that your footwork puts your body in a good position to get into a forehand fielding position.
The Keys to Saving Extra Bases
1. Aggressive angles to the baseball
2. Communication from the entire team
3. Footwork when you get to the baseball
4. Making sure you throw to the cut off man
5. Throwing to the correct base
Strength is never a weakness. As practice and workouts continue to ramp up and you may be doing more baseball related activity or more running continue to push your strength levels. You can increase your conditioning levels in a multiple of ways that does not include running. Try a heavy set of deadlifts for 5 reps and I can guarantee your heart will be beating just like you ran a 30 yard sprint. Both these methods increase your VO2 max, however one is working on your strength levels too. The higher your strength level the more injury resilient you become. Be wise with your time, pick a compound movement and do 2-5 heavy sets of 3-6 reps.
- When others are hitting the incase of emergency button, you continue to be relentless In your pursuit of the solution or end result.
- Have complete focus and total effort on your worst day.
- See fear as a part of your process. This will not slow you down.
- There is more than one way to get what you want.
- Start by taking action!
- Finish what you started!