Giants Spring Training camp officially kicks off with the arrival of pitchers and catchers. The biggest story of the day centers around one Barry Zito and his revamped pitching motion.
Zito added 10lbs of muscle over the course of the offseason and tinkered with his pitching motion in a effort to gain lost velocity on his fastball. The new motion involves a longer stride, a little more rocking back during the windup, and an effort to utilize the legs more.
“This is something I used to do, so it’s just getting back to it,” said Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner. “I’m just trying to take my weight down the mound a little bit more, use my legs a little bit more. I wasn’t using my legs the last couple of years. I’m just taking a step back to create momentum from the beginning of the delivery. Before I used to stop and then go and try to create momentum really from nothing. It’s kind of more an old-school delivery.”
“That’ll wear him down. He’s going to over-stride,” Righetti said. “It’s going to be tough on him. He’s a good athlete and he got himself in shape for it. Maybe it’s all tied in together and he felt he had to do something. To me, it’ll be about making his pitches. If he loses the curveball, which he could because he’ll be throwing from a different angle now — we’ll see how sore his groin is tomorrow.”
You can understand Righetti’s concern, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be appropriate in this situation. Any significant changes to a pitchers motion can have all sorts of disastrous effects. Creating a injury from mechanics changing or generally being poor in the first place is a very real concern. Giants management has to be a little nervous with Zito’s changes.
On the other hand, if Barry can add a few mph back to his fastball that he lost and still have the same quality and control over his other pitches it will only help him. Declining peripheral stats in recent years may have been the impetus for Zito to try and change a few things with his pitching. For the Giants, not exactly the kind of thing you want to hear from a guy you’ve invested 126 million in.
A quick glance at the last 3 years of Zito’s stats and you’ll notice a trend. Strikeouts, walks, hits, and WHIP have all either increased or been above his career numbers. Most notable was his boost in WHIP in years 2004 and 2006.
Looking at the numbers you can see why Zito might want to change things up a little bit. They always say that the best pitchers are the ones that can reinvent themselves.
One of the tags attached to Zito during his foray into the free agent market was his durability. That to me is the biggest question mark involved when a pitcher alters his mechanics. Will it or won’t it affect Zitos durability? Time will tell. Zito seems to be a smart guy and you have to wager that if he starts having problems with his new mechanics he will revert to his old style. You pray that Zito, in all of his cosmic wackiness, will be able to do that.
Comment starter: Which pitcher has your favorite windup? Some of my personal favorites are Juan Marichal, Pedro Martinez, and Johan Santana. You’ll soon be able to add Tim Lincecum to that list. In the limited videos I’ve seen of his motion I already love it.
- Barry #1 finally signs his deal and is officially a Giant (I felt like we’ve said that already a thousands times). Bonds is expected to report to camp on time.