VIERA, Fla. - Once the regular season starts, Nationals fans will likely be treated to a sight that became an unusual tradition in Milwaukee the last two years: a 6-foot-4, 240-lb. reliever sprinting like mad from the bullpen to the mound.
That sprint has become one of Todd Coffey's calling cards. He's been doing it all seven seasons he's been in the majors. The Brewers turned it into in-game entertainment, posting a "Coffey Time" graphic on the Miller Park scoreboard that tracked the speed of Coffey's run. Now that he's with the Nationals, he'll bring his odd ritual with him.
Coffey started it in 2004, during a game with Double-A Chattanooga in the Reds system. His team had taken a six-run lead in the bottom half of the eighth, and Coffey was due to pitch the top of the ninth. So he came into the game on an adrenaline-fueled sprint to the mound, and found he liked the way he felt.
"It helps me get loose. You get that little adrenaline spike," Coffey said. "A lot of times, you'll see pitchers come in all jacked up, and they'll throw one pitch, and the game's over. But it helps me. You get that little rush, you come down and then you focus in."
Coffey had a 4.76 ERA with the Brewers last year, but was especially strong in 2009, when he posted a 2.90 ERA and a 1.159 WHIP in 78 appearances. He signed a one-year, $1.35 million deal with the Nationals in late January.
He's hoping the Nationals adopt the "Coffey Time" graphic at home games, too.
"The fans love it," he said. "It's a lot of fun."