My weekly post will still be coming out on Tuesday, but I thought a few of you might want to read a first hand account on Pedro, so here it is.
As a 23 year old pitcher with 1 year of professional baseball experience under my belt, I had no idea what to expect when one of the greatest living pitchers came to pitch for us. I got to the field early, in hopes to meet him and hopefully sign a ball for me. When I got to the clubhouse, 3 hours before game time, he was sitting by himself with heat on his back. His locker was set aside from all of ours so there would be ample room for the media. After 10 minutes of motivating myself I finally mustered up enough courage to talk to him. I introduced myself, shook his hand, and started the conversation by asking him what a coincidence it was for his first outing as a Phillie to come against the New York Mets high A affiliate. His response was, “It is not a coincidence my friend, it is destiny.” After some more small talk I decided that I should give him some space to get mentally focused. I left the conversation thinking about how down to earth, easy going, and friendly Pedro was.
The start time of the game was delayed from 4 to 430. Pedro went to start warming up shortly after 4pm. As I walked out to the field, I saw a swarm of media and fans. We normally get about a thousand fans per game, but today we had much more than that. I stood 5 feet from him as he warmed up and I was very impressed with how he used his legs and was able to get great extension for such a small pitcher. It was also good to see how he was able to ignore the screaming fans, as he remained focused on the task at hand. Hundreds of people were asking him for autographs, or proclaiming their love for him in some fashion or another. But the funniest comment came from a Met fan in the stands who yelled, “Pedro, you should still be a Met! I love you! Minaya is an idiot!”
Mechanically speaking, he looks the same as I remembered him until after his release point. I was used to the huge torque and leg swing finish, but today Pedro seemed much more in control and finished his motion in a good fielding position. I do not know if this is something he has been working on or not, I just know it looked different from what I had remembered.
He only pitched 1.1 innings, but anyone that was there could tell he had good command of all of his pitches, and his changeup is still one of the best in the game. The radar gun reports had him from 87-91, but it is important to note that it was raining, which might cause a slight drop in velocity. He was able to keep hitters off balance with his mix of pitches as no one made solid contact.
After the game was canceled he went into the cage to throw the rest of his 80 pitches. I did not see those pitches because I was too busy eating the great post game spread he had purchased for us. After he was finished in the cages he stuck around to sign autographs for anyone that asked. Pedro is truly a stand up guy, and I know I speak for the whole team when I say it was an honor to be able to share the field with him.