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New Pitching coach

Postby D-Trains on Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:15 am

Davis brings a master's degree education, teaching experience and an analytical approach to the Mariners staff.

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Ryan Divish By Ryan Divish
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — When Paul Davis steps onto the manicured practice fields Tuesday morning at the Mariners spring training complex, 30 or more pitchers will look at him as their de facto leader and await his instruction for their first workout of the 2019 season.

While his hiring was official in early November, this will be his real first day in an atypical journey to the major leagues as the Mariners’ new pitching coach.

“I’m very excited,” he said while flashing a reluctant smile through his reserved demeanor.

The preparation for this moment was born from the unlikeliest of places. It was the dusty ballfields in small towns around Nebraska as he coached 17- and 18-year-olds — many of whom could only dream of reaching this level. It was also the four years of rarely warm spring games around the Midwest, while leading a successful NAIA baseball team for a now-shuttered institution once called Dana College. Those years featured offseasons spent coaching college players in summer leagues.

But the process didn’t just take place on the field. No, it came in the classroom, where he reinvested in an education that had stopped with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Creighton following his final two years of baseball (1984-1985). The desire to learn and self improve carried him to a bachelors’ degree in history from Peru State College in 2004 and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Nebraska, also in 2004.

He then took on education from the other side, serving as an adjunct professor at three different colleges for varying periods from 2005 to 2012.

Then came his chance at professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013 as a pitching coach for the short-season rookie affiliate in Johnson City, Tenn. He remained in the organization for six years, adding responsibilities to his role and taking on new titles, eventually cresting as the Cardinals’ director of pitching analytics.

His eclectic resume and willingness to think differently from established pitching coaches made him attractive enough to the Mariners to hire a coach with no big-league experience to replace Mel Stottlemyre, who was let go after the 2018 season. Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto called Davis “a bright pitching mind with a very diverse background” in the hiring announcement.

The modern pitching coach must not only be able to assess mechanical issues or put together rotation plans but also embrace new technologies such as Trackman (for tracking pitches and batted balls) and Rapsodo (for tracking pitches) and the data they provide. And then, he somehow has to take the new information provided and use it to help pitchers.

“It’s one of the reasons he’s got the opportunity to take the reins here and we’ve given him the opportunity to run with it,” said manager Scott Servais.

Because of his background in education, Davis embraces the idea of never being satisfied with — or with questioning — what is known.

“I’m a naturally curious person, as is,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’ve always done as a coach and one of my strengths is to see the potential in guys. … Sometimes those things that you see as a coach that a guy does well, they may not realize it. That happens all the time … often times for them it’s an ‘A-ha’ moment — ‘Oh yeah, OK, I get that.’”

Joining a MLB franchise offered him new ways to find “A-ha” moments.

“Really my first year with the Cardinals, I was able to get access to Trackman and start looking at that information,” he said. “I had already been digging into Pitchf/x stuff before that. Really, it was trying to seek confirmation of things — things that you would see. … I think a lot of things that have happened over baseball — in the hitting side as well — there are things that we maybe can’t see or our eyes fool us. So having that data can confirm or deny certain things. It helps you make decisions.”

It isn’t all about mechanics or pitch grips or spin rates. Sometimes, it’s as simple as checking the data on pitch selection.

“One of the things you find, even now in the big leagues, there are fewer fastballs being thrown,” he said. “Pitchers are realizing they get more swings and misses with their non-fastball pitches. A lot of times with the minor-leaguers I’ve worked with the past six years, they wouldn’t really understand that their slider gets 52 percent swings and misses. You have to bring it to the guy’s attention and they say, ‘Oh really?’ ‘Yeah, you are getting 52 percent swings and misses and you get 15 percent with your fastball. So 0-2 or 1-2, how about throwing your slider?’ That’s the kind of stuff that is just helpful.”

But in his new role, Davis’ responsibilities extend beyond data. He has to organize and oversee the throwing program this spring. He’s in charge of an entire pitching staff that will be formed from about 25 legitimate candidates.

“It’s a challenge, no doubt, and it’s Paul’s first time in the big leagues,” Servais said. “There’s a little bit of a learning curve. It’s not just about learning the information that’s presented in front of you, but learning the personalities and how it’s being presented to you. It takes time.

“But that’s the beauty of spring training, you have some time. … These first four days with just pitchers and catchers, let’s really slow it down. We have time.”

Beyond Marco Gonzales and Sam Tuivailala — both former Cardinals — he doesn’t really know much about the pitchers in camp.

“It will be a process just trying to build relationships with guys, just go day-by-day and kind of see what guys have,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a few veteran guys, but there’s a lot of new guys here that we are giving opportunities. You aren’t going to just jump and form conclusions quickly. But it’s just about building a relationship and go from there.”

Davis spent some time in the offseason, studying up on the pitchers invited to camp, particularly those projected for the opening-day roster.

Any impressions?

“I think there’s a lot of talent here, obviously,” he said. “Some of the guys that are talented haven’t really had the opportunity yet. But like many seasons, there’s always surprises, there’s always guys that come out of nowhere. Who that will be? I don’t know. But I think there will be some guys that surprise people.”

Davis isn’t going to do anything crazy with the setup of spring training. Pitchers will throw bullpens every third day, similar to the past few seasons. The process to build up stamina and arm strength will be the same.

“In talking with (bullpen coach) Brian (DeLunas) and (assistant coach) Jim (Brower), it seemed like it worked well when we have a pretty set schedule,” he said. “But once we get going, it will be more individualized. Me personally, I’m a guy that likes to allow pitchers freedom to be individuals. they know their body and they know what works for them. We’ll try and craft schedules that way.”
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby Coeur d Alene J on Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:23 pm

I can see him being a big part of the pitching coaching staff. But to hand him the whole thing. Geez Jerry Your almost hard headed
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby D-Trains on Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:45 pm

He kind of reminds me of a slightly less attractive Lorena Martin.

https://www.google.com/search?q=paul+da ... DSKSpgGIdM:
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby 2021WSorBust on Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:09 pm

I love the picture used by the Times for the article. Dude's got "crazy" eyes.
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby ddraig on Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:10 pm

I'm in his corner if he can turn Felix around. Emphasis on the "if." I personally view Felix as a lost cause unless he can wrap his head around changing how he pitches. if he can't...
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby D-Trains on Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:01 pm

I think its very possible that Felix could completely change how he pitches and still suck given the decline of his stuff.

dt
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby Captain 97 on Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:13 pm

Felix's issues have nothing to do with "the way he pitches". Felix was a great pitcher because he has excellent secondary stuff. However when hitters no longer have to respect the fastball the secondary stuff is not all that hard to deal with. If you are going to be a successful MLB pitcher with a sub 90 fastball, you better have pin point accuracy like a Moyer or Maddux. Felix has never had pin point control and I doubt that there is anything that any pitching coach can do to help him get it. Changing his approach to pitching is not going to change the fact that he has no velocity and no control.
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby D-Trains on Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:33 pm

Captain 97 wrote:Felix's issues have nothing to do with "the way he pitches". Felix was a great pitcher because he has excellent secondary stuff. However when hitters no longer have to respect the fastball the secondary stuff is not all that hard to deal with. If you are going to be a successful MLB pitcher with a sub 90 fastball, you better have pin point accuracy like a Moyer or Maddux. Felix has never had pin point control and I doubt that there is anything that any pitching coach can do to help him get it. Changing his approach to pitching is not going to change the fact that he has no velocity and no control.


Yeah, I tend to agree. This notion that he could still be good but he just doesn't want to be never made much sense to me.

dt
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby D-Trains on Thu Feb 14, 2019 9:34 am

PEORIA,​ Ariz.​ —​ For​ as​ long as he can​ remember, Nick Davis​ has been struck​ by his​ father’s​ sense​ of​ curiosity​​ and wonderment with how the world works, particularly as it connects to sports.

Never afraid to implement new concepts and ideas, Paul Davis would often test his hypotheses while coaching, either with a college team at a small school in Nebraska or with the Reds of the Omaha Suburban League, the team Nick played on as a 9-or 10-year-old.

“I was the guinea pig for some of my dad’s theories,” said Nick, now the Brewers’ manager for baseball research and quantitative analysis. “We are doing yoga-based stretching before games, and my friends are like, ‘What is your dad making us do?’”

Paul Davis replaced Mel Stottlemyre Jr. as the Mariners’ pitching coach after Stottlemyre was dismissed following the 2018 season. Unlike Stottlemyre, the ultimate insider in and out of professional baseball since the mid-1980s, the 54-year-old Davis has never spent a single day in the big leagues prior to this year. He saw his playing career end in college and boasts a resume more befitting a college professor than a big-league coach.

As a matter of fact, he’s actually been a college professor.

Davis is about as unconventional a hire as they come because his experiences were not entirely born between the lines of a baseball diamond. He owns bachelor’s degrees in psychology and history education and a master’s in educational administration. He taught psychology and sports management at the college level, too.

Wondering where baseball fits in? Don’t worry, the guy can coach, too. He was successful at Dana College, a now-defunct NAIA school in Nebraska, before joining the Cardinals organization in 2013. He moved fast in part because of his grasp of analytics, his insatiable thirst for knowledge and his ability to communicate his thoughts to players in a relatable way.

“I’m a naturally curious person,” Davis said of his unique path Monday.

That curiosity has resulted in a blending of his subjects of interest. Some of the concepts he taught as a college coach — and later in the Cardinals’ farm system — were rooted in his studies in psychology.

“As a coach, I viewed myself as a teacher,” Davis said. “Once I was pursuing graduate degrees, I taught subject matter that was interesting and that I was doing research on. As a college coach, I would have classrooms sessions in the offseason. It lent itself to what my strengths were.

“A lot of times, what I was teaching, Intro to Psychology and Development of Psychology, helped me from a coaching perspective.”

Davis will need to draw on all his experiences in his first season with the Mariners. He presided over a group of 32 pitchers going through the paces of the team’s first spring workout with pitchers and catchers on Tuesday. If you’re keeping score, that’s 32 pitchers Davis had never seen pitch before.

The learning curve will be a steep one, said manager Scott Servais, but he believes Davis will be able to handle the workload. The pitching system the Mariners have in place is a collaborative one, after all, with help from other coaches and the front office. That should aid Davis’ assimilation, but he will be given free rein to tap into his expertise as he sees fit.

That expertise is extensive, touching primarily on how psychology relates to sports and leadership. While with the Cardinals, he had the chance to tap into his interest in analytics and biomechanics, and his diverse background and interpersonal skills have allowed him to reach people.

“I think one of my strengths is to see the potential in guys and imagine what this guy could be,” Davis said. “It’s like, ‘What does he do well, how can we make that even better?’”

Getting to know a new pitching staff won’t be as daunting for Davis as it might others; after facing a classroom of 40 undergraduates while teaching Psychology and Sports Management, he’s comfortable with crowds.

Davis’ goal, especially early on, is to develop relationships with the pitchers. And that’s not just about learning what they throw or how they go about attacking hitters. He’s talking about a much deeper connection, learning about where his players come from and where they want to go.

There will be plenty of learning this spring, but a lot of the work has already taken place since Davis was hired on Nov. 6. He has pored over video and logged conversations with Brian DeLunas, the team’s director of pitching development and strategies.

“It’s going to be a process, just trying to build relationships with guys,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of talent here. A lot of guys haven’t had the opportunity yet. There’s always surprises, guys who come out of nowhere. I think there will be some guys who surprise people.”

While his career path has been nothing like those who held his position before him, Davis just might surprise in his new role.

“He will inspire, and he will educate,” said Wes Sime, a sports psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska who has served a mentor to Davis. “Paul is such a great communicator and phenomenal in creating ideas in sport performance and developing the best in athletes.

“He sees outside the box,” Sime said. “He’s got great potential if the Mariners let him unleash that.”

Never before has baseball seen more non-traditional hires, many of whom — like DeLunas — come from the private sector and don’t have prior professional baseball experience.

The game is looking for people like Paul Davis, and if you can help a team, it will find you, regardless of how long, short or non-existent your playing or coaching career has been. At least one of Davis’ earliest pupils likes his chances of helping Seattle.

“He’s a good communicator,” Nick said. “He likes to teach and learn. I’m confident he’ll figure it out.”
 
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Re: New Pitching coach

Postby mikeyb12 on Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:50 am

bunch of nonsense from the M's...… smh
 
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