Kodai Senga adjusting to new ball, mound during first spring bullpen session for Mets – The Denver Post
PORT ST. LUCIE — Kodai Senga threw his first bullpen as a member of the New York Mets on Thursday.
By his own admission, the 52-pitch session was just “so-so.”
The right-hander will make his MLB debut this season after a standout, 11-year career in Japan. The adjustments he’s having to make in spring training vary from cultural to the actual field itself. The MLB balls are smaller, heavier, and less tacky than the balls in Japan. Major League baseballs aren’t as easy to manipulate and spin as Japanese balls and Senga’s signature pitch — the ghost fork — relies on spin.
But on a humid, drizzly day in South Florida, Senga could spin it how he wanted.
“I’ve been playing around with it,” Senga said Thursday at Clover field through Hiro Fujiwara, his interpreter. “I feel like I’m pretty confident and comfortable with it.”
The biggest adjustment for Senga is actually the mound itself. The Major League mound is steeper, which made for some throws so hard that Buck Showalter joked he was throwing 105 MPH. However, this was just the first of many bullpen sessions the 30-year-old will throw this spring. He’s conscious of where his foot is going and the effect that it has on his delivery, but he doesn’t see it as anything he can’t fix.
“Just a little bit of drifting and leaking with my friend side down the mound,” he said. “So that’s something to look into for the next bullpen session.”
Adjustments like this are why he opted against playing for Japan in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Senga wanted to give himself as much time to get used to the North American game as possible. Staying in Florida throughout camp will help with communication through Fujiwara, the catchers, the pitching coaches, and Showalter.
Fujiwara previously worked for the Texas Rangers translating for Kohei Arihara, so he knows the role well and what it entails. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner communicated primarily through Fujiwara in the bullpen Thursday. There was some confusion as to what Senga meant when he expressed concern about the dirt on the mound, but it was quickly resolved and understood to be the slope of the mound.
Senga’s English is rapidly improving and he was able to understand Hefner and some questions posed to him by the media.
“A lot of English and Spanish words coming through my ears,” Senga said, through Fujiwara. “So that’s something I’m going to have to get used to and hopefully be able to understand a little bit.”
He does know one English word: Pizza. So far, it’s his favorite food in the States.
Mets mourn loss of Tim McCarver
Before Tim McCarver was a national baseball voice, he was a voice of the Mets. McCarver, the Hall of Fame broadcaster who passed away Thursday at the age of 81, has always been a beloved figure in New York Sports history after calling Mets and Yankees games on local television in the 1980s and 1990s.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing today of Tim McCarver, who for 16 years in the television booth gave Mets fans an insightful, humorous, and knowledgeable behind-the-scenes look into the game of baseball,” the club said in a statement. “Tim drew on his 21-year career as a catcher to give viewers a unique opinion on what went on between the lines. We send our condolences to his daughters, Kathy and Kelley, and the rest of the McCarver family.”
Making it official
The Mets hired Carlos Beltran last week and the former outfielder was officially added to the front office Thursday. The 45-year-old received a special assistant title and is expected to work with general manager Billy Eppler and his group as well as on the field with the players.
“We were considering a lot of players to be guest instructors and I’m hoping he’ll do that a little,” Showalter said. “I know Billy is going to handle what all he’s going to be doing. I think you’ve seen a lot of organizations hiring players with similar backgrounds.”
Source: Read Full Article