By Ed Coleman
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork) — The E’s were evident: enthusiasm, energy, excitement.
New Mets manager Mickey Callaway held his opening news conference Tuesday, a day before pitchers and catchers work out for the first official time. Callaway’s passion was visible, and that passion has translated to a renewed sense of optimism for Mets players as well as the coaching staff heading into the 2018 season.
Callaway touched on a number of issues in his presser, among them:
Implementing new ideas
“It’s easier because we’re new. We’re a new staff. We have new ideas. We’re different people than maybe they’re used to dealing with. The key is to communicate with the guys every single day and have expectations that they are aware of.”
Possibly fluid roles in the bullpen
“I’ve talked to all those guys. Every one of them, to a man, has said, ‘We do not care when we pitch; we just want to win a game.’ There’s no egos in there. They just want to win ballgames.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it. The amount of very good arms with quality stuff that we have here in this Mets organization, I promise you, nobody else has that. I’ve been around some pretty good arms, and this is the best group of arms and stuff I’ve ever seen from top to bottom. Dave Eiland (pitching coach) and I come in at the end of the day and say, ‘This is unbelievable.'”
His pitching coach
“If you can be efficient, you can pitch longer. Dave Eiland is going to prepare these guys to be the best possible version of themselves. That’s going to include the way they attack, the way they control the running game, the way they attack the third time through the lineup. He is going to educate these guys and make them better pitchers. He’s going to have them prepared better than anyone has prepared them in their life.”
Keeping everyone healthy
“Processes and routines are truly what’s going to keep these guys healthy moving forward. They’re coming to camp healthy. The hard part is to keep them healthy throughout a full season. What we do expect is for them to have processes and routines that are going to give them the best chance to throw as many innings as possible, and that’s what we’re going to hold them accountable for.”
Any conflict in roles being a pitching-coach-turned-manager
“Dave Eiland is the pitching coach. Dave was my mentor. I learned from Dave. I think my pitching background can help the hitters as much as the pitchers. I’m going to be able to provide feedback to both pitchers and position players. That’s going to be the fun part for me. But Dave Eiland is the pitching coach, and he’s going to be empowered at all times to do his job.”
What he’ll say to pitchers and catchers in first official meeting
“The meeting with the pitchers will be about their routine. It’s going to take place in the weight room. That’s how valuable I think their routines are going to be. We’re going to walk them through what we expect them to do when they arrive at the ballpark every day. And that’s the first thing they’re going to hear. Holding guys accountable and going through the process and communicating with these guys every day — that’s the thing I’m looking forward to the most being a manager.”
The importance and effectiveness of the breaking ball
“Major league hitters are in the big leagues because they have bat speed and can hit the fastball. They don’t hit the breaking ball quite as well. We have some guys with really good breaking balls that may not have used them as much as they should have. With how hard these guys throw these days, the breaking ball might not be as bad for the arm as we initially thought. They still have to be able to command their fastball, they have to be able to throw a fastball down and away when they want to, they have to have the ability to throw a ball in off the plate to set up these breaking balls. I would venture to say you’re going to see an uptick in what our breaking ball usage has been in the past.”
Callaway also talked about the first base competition between veteran Adrian Gonzalez and young Dominic Smith, who arrived at camp in tremendous shape, the uncertainty of who the leadoff hitter will be and the variables attached to that decision, and the importance of the pitchers helping out the catchers to stifle the running game, partially because of the many responsibilities the catchers have in other areas.