Comparing Connor to Kranitz

SARASOTA, Fla. - So did I hear correctly that the Gino Giant is coming back to Baltimore?

Best burger around when I was a kid.

The clubhouse is closed to the media for the second time in three mornings. On Monday, it was due to physicals and dental and vision exams. Today, our access is limited because of team meetings, including one with umpires.


I’ve been asked many times about the differences between former pitching coach Rick Kranitz and the man who replaced him, Mark Connor. Are their approaches similar or vastly different?

Answer: It’s too soon to tell.

I’ve talked to a few pitchers and they all agree that Connor is in full observational mode as he continues to learn a new staff. He studied video over the winter, but he’s still learning about them. He didn’t storm into camp and flood them with his ideas and philosophies (see what I did there?)

“I haven’t noticed any differences yet,” said Jeremy Guthrie. “I think he’s pretty similar, just absorbing information. I think he’s here to evaluate, let pitchers do their thing and then figure out who he’s going to be working with this year. I think you’ll see more of his individual approach come out later on in the season. That would be my guess.

“I go about the work and do the routine that I’m used to and my body responds to and go from there.”

Left-hander Brian Matusz also noted how “Goose” has mostly been observing the staff.

“He’ll sit back, watch us, see our routines and try to get a feel for each pitcher individually,” Matusz said. “I think right now he’s just kind of stepping back, viewing, picking up things. It hasn’t really been hands-on work yet, which is good. I think it’s important. I like it, how Goose is trying to see what type of pitchers we are, see our routines. And I’m sure once the games start, he’ll get in there a lot more. So, it’s hard to compare, because Kranny had more time to see me and know who I really was.

“I love Kranny. I loved him. He helped me get through some tough times and work on things. And now I’m excited to see what Goose has to offer once he starts getting to know us a little bit better and can get into it a little bit more.

“Even (bullpen coach) Rick Adair, I see a difference already talking with him. He’s great. We’ve been talking about the mental side for the most part. It’s great. I feel like it’s important to build a relationship with your coach first in order for us to understand each other. I think that’s what we’re doing right now, and so far things are going really well.”

Chris Tillman hasn’t spent a lot of individual time with Connor, but he’s already benefited from the relationship.

“He’s just starting to get the feel of everybody, but he said a few things off the side of the mound that actually clicked with me right away,” Tillman said. “I like Kranny, but at the same time, right after I got off my mound and asked (Connor) why we did this, it clicked for me right away. It worked. I’m excited to work with him.”

Left-hander Michael Gonzalez hasn’t detected much of a difference between Connor and Kranitz, who now serves as the Brewers’ pitching coach.

“I’m not going to lie to you, they seem very similar to me,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know how they are with the young guys, but I think with the older guys, they just kind of sit back and let you do your thing. They know you’ve been doing it for a while.”

Gonzalez is having a much better camp in 2011. Amazing what a healthy shoulder can do for a pitcher.

“It’s going good. Everything’s going well,” he said. “I feel much better than last year and I’m just excited to get out there and get going.”

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