Mickey Callaway will speak to young pitchers and promote physical fitness. And he will share with them details of when to throw strikes. And when to pitch to contact. And when to get after batters. And when to get off the mound and throw in the outfield.
Callaway, now the Angels pitching coach, is leaving a heavy workload to try and adjust to a pitching staff that has much more athletic players and has received consistent improvement from veteran hurlers such as Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker and Luis Valbuena.
“It’s not always easy for a pitching coach to get used to a staff that’s a bit different than they’ve seen before,” he said. “But having their knowledge of what they bring to the staff and how they can affect other pitchers is what I’m hoping to help me with.”
How should he deal with opposing batters?
“It’s not going to change my identity,” he said. “Whatever I do, I’m going to put a positive emphasis on, and it’s going to be keeping the team in the game.”
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The job is different. Callaway feels more responsibility than in his previous positions, as pitching coach at Arizona State, Yankees minor league manager, then the Yankees big league pitching coach. He knows what he’s getting into. He knows he’s not the least bit likely to outsmart the hitters. He’s not likely to make guys walk because they like to run the bases.
“I just know there’s a little more of a role with this pitching staff,” he said. “I’m trying to come in and say something here and there to get them all on the same page. But you still try to do your coaching.”
He’s already got a pretty good idea about how his staff will perform. He already knows they have more offense and defensive talent than last year. Richards and Shoemaker have returned, Cam Bedrosian has been solid, and the Angels were tied for fourth with 216 runs, putting them in the upper 10% of the majors. Valbuena had his best season with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs. And the Angels ranked in the top 20 in doubles (22), stolen bases (49), on-base percentage (.333) and slugging percentage (.417).
“I’m not going to put all of the burden on this pitching staff to be a top staff," Callaway said. “What I know is we’ve got a group of guys that have an ability to be right in the mix of things. Whether it’s the starting rotation, the bullpen, or the position players that are currently in the big leagues. And I think that’s a huge advantage for us.”
He said he’s looking for improvement, especially on the mental side of the game.
“They are going to bring their own energy, they are going to bring their own passion,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is be proactive about doing a little bit of extra. When we’re winning games, that’s our number one task.”
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