Alex Cora is the new manager of the Red Sox, and since the day he was hired there has been a new-found optimism for Red Sox Nation. Cora looks to be infusing this young talented roster with new concepts and fun. It appears to be a drastic change from the stale, worker like approach of the previous regime. There are many noticeable differences in this team other than the players in the uniform.
One of those changes is the number of players seeking out help from the older retired players. One of the biggest examples of this is Rick Porcello working with Derek Lowe. These meetings with former players are twofold. One is the ability to bounce ideas off for validation that what the player is doing is working. The other is to hone a skill that they may need help with.
Regarding Porcello, he is receiving help on his signature pitch the Sinker. Porcello last year noticeably struggled, and a lot of those struggles were due to Porcello’s sinker not having the movement he normally would have. This led to the ball being up and out over the plate, which usually leads to a long day on the mound for the pitcher.
Lowe has watched many of the bullpen sessions Porcello has thrown and has offered his pointers as Porcello needs them. Lowe may offer some subtle changes to Porcello’s grip or the pressure he puts on the seams to get the best movement on the ball. Just like any professional it is always nice to hear new ideas from a guy like Lowe who has been there before, and who perfected the Sinker.
Other players have been seen with former major leaguers. Steven Wright is utilizing the mind of Tim Wakefield. Wright is using Wakefield to learn better ways to throw the knuckleball. Since the knuckleball is such a novelty of a pitch the guys who throw the knuckler are in a much smaller fraternity than those of other pitchers. In Wright’s case his Knuckleball already has good movement, but Wakefield was able to perfect that pitch, and has a ton of good info to pass on to the younger guys.
Some of the older veteran players on the Red Sox have also been mentoring the younger players on the Major League team and even some with the Minor League team. It has been reported that Jason Groome, the Red Sox top prospect, spent the winter training with Chris Sale. Groome also a left handed pitcher, could not ask for a better guy to learn from. Sale is one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball, as we all know, he also happens to be left handed.
Groome is learning pitches from Sale, but one other valuable thing that Groome is learning is how to be a professional, and the mental part of the game. So many guys have the ability on the field but have never been shown the mental part of the game or how to act as a professional. That is one of the bigger hurdles for many players in baseball these days.
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JD Martinez arrival to the Red Sox brought one of the most feared hitters in baseball to Boston, but it also brought a mentor to the younger players on this roster. Guys like Xander, Devers and Benintendi have already been seen picking his brain about hitting and playing the outfield. Any time a player can notice any little nuances of a superstar’s game it can propel the player and unlock their full potential.
The Red Sox hope that the little tweaks that Porcello has made to his signature pitch help him on the mound. It is hopefully going to help Porcello regain his confidence in that pitch. The Red Sox have seen that if Porcello is able to keep the ball down in the zone and can keep hitters guessing he is lethal and can get a lot of hitters out.
Rick being sandwiched in between the stars of Sale and Price is going to be huge for him. If the Red Sox can get Porcello a lead he will be able to keep it most likely. He doesn’t walk anyone, and he very rarely throws the ball over the fat part of the plate. If he can regain his Cy Young form, paired with Sale and Price, the Red Sox will win a lot of games. I hope Derek Lowe is teaching Porcello everything he knows.