As a Pitching Coach

Here are some suggestions for first year pitching coaches. Also, if your assuming the role as a pitching coach, regardless if you’re a first year pitching coach or veteran, some of these suggestions can be very helpful.

(1) Watch for conduct that’s out of the ordinary. Be mindful of your pitchers with respect to mood swings, rubbing the shoulders or arms, stiffness in the lower back, changes in appearance that doesn’t fit the personality, lack of focus.
(2) A pitcher that relies a lot on mostly off-speed and change-ups early in his appearance is holding back for a reason. What are those reasons?
(3) Be careful with off-speed and change-ups with the bottom of the batting order. Slower bat speed tends to make contact with these pitches.
(4) On any given day for whatever reason, the right or left side of the plate won’t work. Don’t dwell on it.
(5) Pitchers that rely heavily on breaking pitches, when normally they don’t, do so for a reason. What are those, reasons?
(6) Pitchers that rub the ball after every pitch are not on their game.
(7) A pitcher that’s sweating heavily on the back of neck is usually struggling.
b Be careful sending in a reliever or closer who will be facing the top of the batting order. In the amateur game it usually takes two full innings for these pitchers to settle in.
(9) Agree on a casual signal from the catcher when the pitcher is losing it. This signal should be confidential between you and your catcher. There’s no benefit at all, letting anyone else know - this includes other coaches, bat boys, scorekeeper, etc.
(10) Don’t talk to your battery during a game, let them work things out together - off to the side alone. Let your catcher take over here, that’s his job - not yours.
(11) With runners on, go to a second or third sign indicator - but don’t get fancy. Pitchers have enough on their plate without having to think too much.
(12) Avoid eye contact with your battery after every inning. Bury your face in a score book, calendar, SI swimsuit issue, anything.
(13) Game time is the time for the battery to work things out - it’s not a time to coach. If you feel differently, you don’t have faith in your batter to “deal with it”, tell them at the beginning of the season in front of the entire time. So, you might as well let them know where they stand at the outset - it’s only fair.
(14) Park yourself as far away from those on the bench as you can. You must focus on the rotation’s contribution to the skipper’s game plan. If you must talk to your skipper, do so out of ear shot of others on the bench.
(15) If your taking notes, keep them away from the eyes of others. It’s none of their business.
(16) Avoid being vocal on calls that you disagree with by the umpires. You’re a pitching coach, not a heckler or a bar-fly. Keep quite, stay focused, give it rest. Your strong suits are maturity and a stable disposition.

Coach B.

Excellent post, Coach B.—and one that applies, or should apply, to major league coaches as well as the ones in the amateur game. You’d be surprised at some of the ones I have seen in the majors who totally disregard one or more of these precepts.
Case in point: there was one guy, Joe Kerrigan, who was everything to dislike about a pitching coach. He would run out to the mound between pitches and harangue and harass the poor fish on the rubber—and for what? It didn’t help. And he was fired by one team after another, and even when he was assigned to the bullpen, as happened with a couple of other teams, he continued to do the same thing. I’m surprised that some exasperated pitcher who had had just about enough of him didn’t take a good swing at him and flatten him on his gluteus maximus!
Case in point: the manager who thinks he knows everything there is to know about pitching. Like Chuck Dressen, when he was manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers—what he knew about pitching you could put on the head of a straight pin (such as is used in sewing) and have a lot of room left over. He didn’t even know his own pitching staff, let along the guys on other teams. Look what happened in 1951, in the third game of the playoff between his Bums and the New York Giants. He called for Ralph Branca to replace a tiring Don Newcombe in the ninth inning—completely forgetting that the next batter, Bobby Thomson, owned Branca, had hit a number of homers off him during the season. He would have done better with Carl Erskine, who was bouncing the ball in front of the plate (which often happens with the splitter, by the way). Even better would have been Clem Labine—but Dressen was furious at him for whatever reason and wanted nothing to do with him. The result?
"The Giants win the pennant!"
And even Casey Stengel, who ended up being fired at the end of the 1960 season because he made a thoroughly egregious mistake that cost the Yankees the World Series. He let gross sentimentality get the better of him; because he wanted Whitey Ford to start the third game at Yankee Stadium he picked Art Ditmar to pitch the opener in Pittsburgh. He never stopped to think that if Ford had pitched that opener he would have been available for Game Four and, if need be, Game Seven—and the outcome would have been entirely different.
Case in point: Jim Turner, a very good pitching coach otherwise but who committed one of the greatest errors in the book. The Yankees had acquired Fred Sanford from the St. Louis Browns in 1949—and Sanford wasn’t a bad pitcher, but he had a herky-jerky motion that offended Turner’s esthetic sensibilities. Frank Crosetti, the third base coach and a former infielder—how did he ever get mixed up in that situation?—didn’t like it either, and they wanted to fix it. They wanted Sanford to have a smooth, Spalding guide-perfect motion, and so they started to futz with it—and they ended up destroying the poor guy. When they got through with him he wasn’t a good pitcher any more, and at the end of the 1950 season he was traded.
I could go on and on, because I’ve seen so much of this sort of thing over the decades. But, as I said, you have made some excellent points, and coaches at all levels need to read and absorb them—and follow them. Thanks again.:slight_smile: 8)

Good stuff, Coach B!

Coach B.,

This kind of information that you freely share could easily be sold and yet the fact that you provide such valuable guidance pro bono speaks volumes of your character. Reading the LTP forum is like panning for gold. I always go to the Coach B gold mine first because of all the nuggets I’ve found there. Thank you.

In other words, “Coach B. Rules !” :twisted:

First off, thank you so very much. Your kind words mean a lot to me, more than you know.

My Mrs., came in and saw this and said jokingly - " you got them fooled". Baseball and my Mrs. just don’t go well in the same room. In any event, I responded by saying… " there’s no fooling these people - some of the most knowledgeable people on the planet with it comes to this subject."

I just wished she left it like that, but she just had to come back, rub the top of my head like a Fuller Brush, and tell me that some day I’ll grow up. Now I wouldn’t have minded the comments, but I don’t have much “brush” left up there to rub up any more!

Thanks again.

Coach B.