As Brian Snitker made the now-too-routine walk to the mound Saturday to check on one of his dinged-up pitchers – this one the young and hopeful starter Max Fried – he was met by relative good news.
Get the headline ready: No blisters! Hallelujah!
Instead of being met by an issue that has plagued Fried in the past – and landed him on the disabled last season – it was a more freakish than that. Something on the top of the hand, rather than anything affecting the grip. This time when throwing one of his noteworthy curveballs, Fried’s thumbnail cut the top side of his pinkie. No big deal. But this being spring and all …
“He was almost at the end of the rope anyway,” Snitker said. “I didn’t want him to keep not doing something, change his delivery or something like that.” So, after 1-2/3 innings, once more the Braves manager pulled a pitcher a bit short of his intended spring workload. It’s getting to be a habit.
On the scale of possible pitcher injuries, though, this one barely rated a number.
“The last person who wants a blister is me. The fact that it’s this, I’m completely fine with it,” Fried said.
Fried gave up three hits and a run over the abbreviated outing, to three of the first four hitters he faced. But on March 2, players tend to measure things not so much by numbers.
“Obviously, some hard-hit balls in the first,” he said. “A big focus coming into today was my rhythm and tempo and my delivery and pounding the zone. I felt like I was able to throw some really good pitches. Physically I really feel great.
“There’s a lot of stuff that I wanted to work on after my last outing that I felt I didn’t do well, I was not as controlled through my delivery. I felt I was better in tempo and with my balance. This early, I’m not looking too much for results, more like the process. Today I felt it was a lot better for me.”
Besides the great finger scare, another notable sight to the Braves’ 7-4 loss to Detroit here was that of Johan Camargo playing first. Add another glove to his bag – he said he now has four of them in there.
The utilitarian Camargo can play pretty much anywhere. But he couldn’t remember another time playing first – and sometimes that showed.
“There was a play there in the game where he didn’t get over to be the cutoff man,” noted Snitker, who was in an experimental mood this day. “Instinctual plays are the toughest. The glove will be fine. Picking balls, he’ll be really good. It’s just when the ball is hit, instinctually he’s used to being on the other side of the diamond.
“He’s going to need to stay a play ahead when he’s out there to combat that. Physically, the capabilities he should play a really good first – if he has to. He might play it again before we leave (camp). I’m going to get him in the outfield sometime this week.”
Also, the manager may need to consider adding another member to the training staff.
“I just have to get a manicure before every start,” Fried joked.