VIERA, Fla. - Drew Storen was between pitches in his bullpen session Thursday when pitching coach Steve McCatty walked over to him and interrupted his series of tosses to catcher Wilson Ramos. The conversation looked pretty one-sided, with Storen doing all the listening, and McCatty was making a plea that Storen is used to hearing.
“He just keeps telling me to slow down,” Storen said later. “I kind of ... wrecked my reputation in spring training because I threw about 100 pitches in 10 minutes because I was so excited in my first spring training. So from then on, he sends someone to do that every time out. I think Cat systematically tells every coach to talk to me at some point.”
McCatty’s reasoning is simple: There’s no reason to have Storen - or any pitcher for that matter - overdo it long before games count for anything. But Storen walks a fine line because his job description demands intensity and adrenaline in potentially game-changing situations, and it’s hard to flip a switch to turn those qualities off and on.
“You have to stay in that same gear, in that same intensity, but you try to lower it down because you obviously don’t want to overdo it,” Storen said. “I think the adrenaline and the situation w ill get you to that point. I thnk you just have to trust the fact that it’ll get there.”
To Storen, the exercise of a closer throwing in spring training is like asking a boxer to fight only while hitting heavy bags and never a real opponent. It doesn’t make it any easier that Storen is a perfectionist, always trying to fix even the smallest mechanical hitch or flaw.
“I’m the type that if I don’t like the previous pitch, I hop right back on to work through it real quick,” he explained. “I don’t like it to stay in my head. So they try to slow me down a little bit.”
Manager Davey Johnson is used to watching Storen get all amped up - and to his incessant attempts to perfect his craft.
“He’s kind of a tinkerer - tinker with this, tinker with that,” Johnson said. “I guess that’s the Stanford in him, always figuring out some edge. I’ll probably give him a little more time to tinker with everything before I run him out (in a game). He doesn’t have to prove anything to me. He’s not fighting for a spot on my roster. I’ve got a spot for him.”
Storen was happy with Thursday’s effort, particularly the way he closed his hip in his delivery. Doing so puts the right-hander in better alignment and smooths out his throwing motion.
But it’s still tough to take his foot off the accelerator, even if it’s just a spring training drill.
“I feel like when I get on the mound I only have one gear,” he said. “It’s just a matter of toning it down. It’s easier when you don’t have a hitter in there. It’s tough in live BP when you get a guy, even though it’s one of your teammates. You shift into a different gear.”