There has been so much Vladimir Guerrero talk over the last few days, I figured I'd mix it up a little this morning. This stuff is a little old (hey, we've been busy) but I think this still works. It's especially fitting since pitchers and catchers work out in Sarasota in exactly one week.
I had a chance to have a one-on-one interview with new Orioles pitching coach Mark Connor at FanFest. He was one day removed from meeting most of his new pitchers (sans Justin Duchscherer). The club had a gathering the night before FanFest and Connor was sitting with his old friend and new Orioles bullpen coach Rick Adair, when a group of the Orioles pitchers came over to chat.
Connor has reviewed film on all of them and talked to most of them on the phone, but he hadn't met them face-to-face. He said how happy he was that, at a social event, they wanted to talk pitching with him and Adair.
"They all came over; it was great," he said, "They all seemed excited and want to get started. We'll see how it goes."
Connor, 61, and I chatted for a while, and I put him on the spot, asking him which one of the young guns was he most interested in watching pitch this month.
"I would have to say Britton, Zach Britton," Connor said. "I am impressed with his stuff, and I talked quite a bit with him about adjusting certain things. But there is nobody you look at and say, 'Are they serious about this guy?' They all are legit."
Here are more quotes from Connor on various pitching matters.
On the starters as a group: "What I see on film excites me. Starting with Guthrie, he is still a young guy, even though he is the veteran on this club. He is still a young man. When I was in the other dugout watching him pitch, I always wished that I had him. And then I look at Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, Bergesen, there is some talent here. It is just a question of being consistent with it, and staying healthy. I think the sky is the limit."
More on the young pitchers: "Matusz's whole approach on the mound, if you watch his mound presence and the way he went about things, for a young kid it was impressive. … The ball jumps out of Tillman's hand, from what I saw on film. … Arrieta has great stuff. I was talking to him a little bit about trusting it and not trying to make it more than it is or needs to be."
On his approach: "Coming into a new situation, and not really knowing the kids, you watch them, but you don't really analyze what's going on mechanically or anything else. We are going to have to watch here a little bit. To just see. We have seen some things on film that kind of ring a bell in your head and you go, 'This is something that needs to be addressed.' But I think, initially, in fairness to them, we have to watch them throw, see what is going on, and if there are things that we need to attack, we will attack them."
On his reputation as a laid-back pitching coach: "I have heard that, that I am kind of laid back, but I can get after some guys when I need to."
On why he took the grueling job instead of remaining as a special assistant in player development with the Texas Rangers: "I had a great job with Texas. I loved the organization. The people there were great, they took care of me. … That was the job I had really talked about for a couple years to finish my career. But when the opportunity came to come here, I had a few sleepless nights, talking to my wife, talking to my family. But I just decided … it's a young club, and we've always loved Baltimore. We always loved coming here, the stadium, the Inner Harbor, the whole bit. And we decided, let's do it one more time, keep us young, hopefully, and hopefully we can get this team to the playoffs."
On his relationship with Orioles manager Buck Showalter: "I owe a lot to Buck Showalter. Buck and I have been together, really, since he was a player and I was a coach in the early '80s. And then I was in the big leagues as a pitching coach when he arrived as a coach,, and then he became the manager in New York. Everywhere he has been as a manager, I have been with him. I knew when he got this job there was a good chance that he'd get in touch and see what I was thinking about."
On his relationship with Adair, also a former pitching coach: "Rick and I go back a long way, too. … We vacation together down in South Carolina, and when all of this was going on, we talked about it quite a bit. I just have such a great respect for Rick and his knowledge and his personality. This guy is, I think, one of the best pitching coaches around, and I didn't think we would keep him. I thought someone was going to grab him. … I think we've got a great tandem between the two of us and we are going to have some fun doing it."
And on his thoughts about the 2011 Orioles: "Obviously, I think we have improved ourselves offensively and defensively, but honestly, it always goes back to pitching. … We've got the makings here, I think, of a championship rotation with the six or seven young kids that are here. But it's still got to be proved on the field."
Go to mobile.baltimoresun.com to get news on your mobile device. Text BASEBALL to 70701 for Orioles text alerts.