Walton discusses three arms
Following Shaun Marcum’s start in a Triple-A game at the Mattick this afternoon (3.2 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 4 K, 0 BB), we caught up with pitching coach Bruce Walton. Here are some comments he had on Marcum, as well as left-handers David Purcey and Brett Cecil.
Did Marcum accomplish everything he needed to accomplish?
“The main thing we accomplished, we got to 60 pitches and that’s huge. Four innings, up and down four times, we got to 60 pitches, so that was our main goal today.”
What did you think of his pitch location?
“I think you saw it again today, he threw some really good pitches. His location was great. He gave up some hits on some fastballs in that might not have been in enough, but he was trying to hit the inside edge. We brought the cutter out today and he got some strikeouts on it.”
With Dustin McGowan, a big key is how he recovers in the days after an outing. Marcum missed all of last year, too, but is that not as much of a concern with him?
“I wouldn’t say it’s less of a concern. We still watch it. We still see how fast he recovers and what we can do on our work days. Right now, our work days are fairly limited. We’ll throw sinkers and fastballs, a couple breaking balls and we’re done. So, we are taking a conservative route on our work days so he is really fresh when the start comes.”
Will Marcum be restricted in how many cutters he can throw right now?
“We’re not going to restrict him at all. We just wanted to pass some tests first before we brought it out. We brought it out today and everything went status quo.”
You’ve limited Purcey to throwing fastballs and sliders and Cito raved about what he saw in the B game yesterday. What did you think?
“Not to jump ahead, but I thought he did a very good job in the B game yesterday. I thought his tempo was outstanding. He threw strikes. He pounded down in the zone with the fastball and his slider was very good. You’re talking about a slider that we just jumped back on in the last week. That’s a week worth of work that he’s done in his side program to throw those sliders in that B game and I thought they were very good.”
Why did you decide to have Purcey hold off on changeups and curves for now?
“The reasoning behind it, I think concentrating on two pitches gives him a foundation. Before, we were throwing four pitches and they weren’t all working. So, we would go changeup, we would go curveball and it was like we were treading water with those two pitches. I really like his arm action on his slider. If you saw the game yesterday, I don’t think you could tell the difference from arm speed from fastball to slider.”
Will Purcey stick with that approach next time out?
“I think I’m going to do it another outing. I don’t think there’s any rush to go to the changeup right away and we also have a two-seam fastball that’s going to be in the works, too. That’s going to give him a different look on his heater. But right now, I’m very happy with the progress that we’ve made on fastball-slider and I don’t see any reason to change it right now.”
Cito mentioned Purcey possibly being a bullpen candidate. Do you see it that way?
“It’s interesting. You never know. I still think he can start. I think that he’s got the arm that can throw 115-120 pitches at times. but also, some guys, their niche is in the bullpen. You never know where guys succeed the best. We want David Purcey to help our ballclub in his best role. There’s been no decisions or talk about going to the bullpen, but you can’t ignore the fact that he struck out four left-handed hitters in a short period of time, which really could help your ballclub late in the game.”
Like Purcey, you have Cecil only concentrating on two pitches right now — fastball and changeup. Is the thought having him work on his two best pitches before mixing in the slider and curve?
“That’s exactly what I’m doing. I feel that for Cecil to be an effective Major League starting pitcher that he has to establish a changeup. He can’t go out there and just throw heater, heater, heater, heater and then miss curveball or miss slider and then come back to the heater, heater, heater. We need to develop a pitch that we can force contact with that is 10 or 15 mph off the heater and that’s the changeup. So I told him, ‘Go out there and throw changeups, son.’ We’ve got ot do it now. This is what Spring Training is about.
“Everybody on my staff, including bullpen, w’ere all in developmental stages right now. And if we don’t work on it in Spring Training, then why do we even have it? So you’re going to give up some hits. If you look at the scoreboard, it might not be exactly what we’re looking for, but that’s not what it’s about right now. Youve got to take your hat off to Cecil. He’s really went out and he’s committed to trying it and he’s got some good outs on changeups. So we’re going to keep doing that and hopefully that carries right into the season.”