Thursday, February 15, 2007

Zito Screwing with Mechanics

From "Zito unveils new delivery": Righetti says changes could have adverse effects" (AP/

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Barry Zito unveiled a different delivery on his first day with the San Francisco Giants, making at least one of his new coaches a little nervous.

Pitching coach Dave Righetti went as far as to say the tweaks Zito made this winter -- seen by the team for the first time Thursday -- could cause him to lose his dominant curveball and wear down his body. Zito has never missed a start in his seven-year career.

"He's gone from one extreme to another from a pitching standpoint," Righetti said after San Francisco's pitchers and catchers finished their initial workout. "His ball flight is going to be different, no doubt about it."

...With his feet shoulder width apart and legs bent, Zito now bounces slightly before taking a big step backward at the beginning of his delivery. He said that creates a longer stride, and his motion is more fluid.

"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."

...Righetti and manager Bruce Bochy plan to sit down with Zito in the coming days to discuss the changes -- and Righetti didn't rule out trying to change the pitcher's mind. Zito called Righetti right after he joined the Giants to let the pitching coach know he was changing things -- yet Righetti had no idea how much Zito would alter his motion until seeing No. 75 on the mound.

"I looked at his tapes from Oakland, so that was a waste of time," Righetti said.

For Zito, making changes in the offseason is nothing new. One winter he tweaked his pickoff move. This time, it's a more noticeable adjustment.

Is Righetti worried?

"Yeah," he said. "He said he was going to do a little something different. He was right. That's a little bit different. That's a first. I got my measuring stick out. He was talking about being bound up and having some freedom on the mound. He's doing all right. We'll get used to watching it. ... We'll see if he can make pitches doing that. He'll end up finding out."

Some unusually candid comments from Righetti, but probably not a big deal. Still, you don't think the Giants and their fans are a little on edge about their $126 million prize right now?

UPDATE: Great experiment = over.


El Person said...

You bet we are. I think that this might give him some velocity, though. Zito hasn't had that the last few years.

Orel said...

Less curve, more speed? I thought pitchers usually do the opposite as they age.