Sometimes, how a player fares in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game depends somewhat on the player's batting practice pitcher.
For Chris Davis, that guy is Orioles coach Einar Diaz. A former big league catcher who played 11 seasons in the majors, the 40-year-old Diaz is in his sixth year in the O's organization and the first with the major league club. He was added this year when a new rule allowing a seventh coach came into play.
Diaz is known for being a good batting practice pitcher.
"Hands down, he's the best BP pitcher I've had in quite some time," Davis said. "He's thrown to me every day for the last few four or five months. He's a guy I feel comfortable with."
Diaz was ticketed to be a coach at Double-A Bowie this year when the O's decided to add him to their big league staff right before opening day. Now he's headed to the All-Star game.
"Yeah, excited to go there with Chris," Diaz said.
So what is the key for being a good BP pitcher and how does he help Davis in those pregame sessions?
"Throwing strikes," Diaz explained. "I guess he likes how I throw it a little harder (than usual BP speed) and throw him the strikes he likes. He likes to go the other way early on in BP.
"It is important to prepare the hitter for the game. Give the hitter a chance to work on things."
However, this will not be just like any other batting practice session tonight. Usually, Diaz is throwing BP with hardly anyone in the stadium. Tonight, he'll throw in front of a big crowd and a national TV audience.
"I don't think it will be much different," Diaz said. "I've been doing it all year. But this time, everyone will be watching on TV and in the stadium, too."
Davis joked that he told Diaz if he was going to be nervous, he shouldn't come to New York. Diaz said that would not be a problem.
"I told him no way (I'd be nervous)," Diaz said.