Blink and you’ll miss what Koda Glover is doing this spring

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Every spring, there’s a guy who opens eyes. This year, Koda Glover is that guy in Nationals camp.

But blink and you’ll miss what Glover is accomplishing as he tries to cement a spot in the Nationals bullpen, perhaps even worm his way into the closer conversation.

Yesterday against the Red Sox, Glover made quick work of some established major league hitters. He struck out the side in the sixth, getting Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging and Chris Young on a called third strike.

Through three innings of spring relief work, he’s allowed one hit and no runs, fanning seven.

Koda-Glover-throw-gray-sidebar.jpg“I haven’t really changed anything. Just being healthy helps,” said Glover, whose 2016 season was short-circuited by a torn hip labrum. “Not having any pain in your hip helps. Little things like that go a long ways.”

Manager Dusty Baker sees a young pitcher ripe with talent who is learning his craft - like not relying too heavily on one pitch so that hitters get easily acquainted with his patterns.

“Last year, he might not have been using all his pitches. You know, you fall back on your No. 1, his fastball,” Baker said. “But he has something to keep guys off his fastball - good slider, good changeup, good cutters. Good command of all.”

Glover, who turns 24 on April 13, rose from Single-A ball to the majors last year, and his 19 big league games, an admittedly small sample size, showed how much confidence he has in his slider. He still likes that pitch - and throws it well - but wants to make sure he doesn’t rely too heavily on it.

“Everybody knows I throw quite a bit of sliders, so that’s the way I approach hitters,” he said. “I’m not shying away from my fastball. It’s just you throw your pitches in certain counts and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

For now, what Glover is doing is working. Baker is being chatted up by scouts wanting to know about the live-armed reliever. So far, Baker is taking the cautious approach. He doesn’t want to tell too much about a pitcher some hitters might not yet have a book on.

But the manager has taken note. His impression of Glover hasn’t changed, only improved.

“We liked Koda last year,” Baker said. “We liked him when he came up. We liked his demeanor on the mound. He’s all business. He never smiles on the mound out there. He’s coming to make this team. I’m very impressed. ... He’s opening the eyes of a lot of people around this Grapefruit League. He’s been very good.”

Glover even allows himself to enjoy his successes, like striking out the side yesterday. He knows he’s helping his own cause.

“When you strike three guys out and they’re pretty damn good hitters, it can’t hurt,” he said.

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