We hosted a live chat at MASNsports.com during the last Orioles homestand with reliever Darren O’Day. As expected, O’Day was interesting, articulate, told some great stories and answered a lot of fan questions.
During these chats, we often find out some interesting things about the players both on and off the field.
For instance, O’Day talked about his effectiveness over the years against left-handed batters. A pitcher throwing from his lower arm slot, you would think he’d get right-handed batters out much more easily than lefty hitters.
Last season, O’Day held lefty batters to a .205 average while right-handed batters hit .201. Over his career, lefties bat .251 and right-handed batters hit .203 off him. This season, he has struggled at times with a .328 average against the lefties.
But O’Day has done well throughout most of his career against left-handed batters as a right-handed sidearm pitcher. He told us during the chat that he got some pointers on facing southpaws during the 2007 season when he was with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and the Angels’ Garret Anderson played for that club on a rehab assignment.
“He was one of the best lefty hitters in the game for a long time,” O’Day said. “I was having problems getting lefties out and I got up the courage to ask what he is looking for when facing a sidearm guy.
“He basically told me, ‘If you keep the ball at the knees, I’m not going to swing at it, because I know all I’ll do is ground out, but if you keep the ball up, I’ll swing at everything.’
“What that meant to me - this might seem kind of different than you’d expect - if he is going to swing at anything high maybe if I pitch above the zone, I’ll get guys to swing at it.
“Lot of sidearmers have trouble elevating fastballs, but I elevate a four-seam fastball up and in on lefties. It kind of keeps them off balance so that I can get them out down and away.
“I get a lot of swinging strikes. So I pitch up in the zone. Traditionally, sidearmers are sinkerballers, they get a lot of groundball outs. If you look at my results, you see more popups and flyouts because I do pitch up so much.”
O’Day said his teammates even have a name for that elevated fastball he throws.
“My teammates have affectionately named that pitch the Jennie Finch. You know, the fast-pitch softball player, very famous,” O’Day said. “Actually, I think she may throw harder than me. So they’ve named it that, they just call it the Finch.”
Now that is funny. Just not to left-handed batters.
O’Day also spent some time talking about his love of fishing. He likes to stay active during O’s road trips and a recent trip to Toronto provided a chance to cast a rod.
“For me, I don’t like to sit on the couch,” O’Day said. “I’m on a streak of road trips here where I haven’t turned the TV on in my room. I like to get out and do stuff and make the best of the city we’re in and explore it.
“Luckily we have some teammates that like to get out. Went fishing in Toronto with Jim (Johnson) and Chris (Tillman). We caught some nice salmon. It was actually right next to Rogers Centre in the lake. We could see the park from the lake. There are plenty of interesting things to explore in the cities, you just have to get out of the hotel.”
Toronto off day. Jim, Tillman, and I were wrangling fat chinook salmon just a couple miles from downtown. pic.twitter.com/TQcNlSCZT5— Darren O'Day (@DODay56) June 21, 2013