Boston’s Cone alters windup, results
After intense film session, starter rebounds with good outing
BRADENTON, Fla., March 8 — David Cone watched three television monitors the morning after his own horror show. One showed Greg Maddux, another Bret Saberhagen in his prime and the third Cone himself as he struggled the previous day. Boston pitching coach Joe Kerrigan pointed out what Cone did wrong and the others did right. It opened Cone’s eyes.
“I TOLD JOE IT was an epiphany,” he said. “He got all over me for using that word. He said something about ‘do it in the game.’ ”
That’s what Cone did Thursday.
In three innings, he allowed one run and three hits and struck out Jason Kendall on a hard slider in Boston’s 9-8 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He even lined a single to right field in his only at bat. “It was a bullet,” Cone said with a laugh.
On the mound, he looked like a different pitcher than the one who allowed two homers and five runs in the first inning of his spring training debut last Saturday, a 7-1 loss to Texas.
That’s because, at Kerrigan’s suggestion, he changed his delivery and threw more over the top. He did plenty of tinkering last season but still finished 4-14 with a 6.91 ERA for the Yankees.
But the video session the day after his disaster showed what he didn’t see all last year with New York.
“Nothing seemed to work,” Cone said. “I came here with an open mind, and now I’m glad I did.”
One reason he signed with Boston was to learn from Kerrigan and bullpen coach John Cumberland, whom he worked with when he was with the New York Mets.
“They really found the flaw in my mechanics that I was looking for,” Cone said. “It really bothered me all last year that I couldn’t find exactly where my flaws were in my delivery.”
The TV demonstration included a frame-by-frame analysis of the three pitchers’ deliveries. The aim was to make Cone’s windup more compact and consistent so he would release the ball at the same spot on each pitch.
“He gets in better throwing position,” Kerrigan said. “It’s a foundation. (We’ll) see if he can build from there.”
The adjustment was easy because Cone has altered his delivery throughout his career. He used an overhand motion during his time with Kansas City and the Mets from 1986 through 1994.
“It seemed to come naturally for me,” he said. “It gave me better body control. I was able to really control my rhythm and my tempo.”
Cone improved his chances of winning a spot in the rotation behind Pedro Martinez. He thinks he might even be the No. 2 starter.
He’s paying little attention to next Thursday, when the guaranteed portion of his $1 million salary increases from $163,934 to $245,902 if he’s still with the team. He said the club has been very encouraging and hasn’t mentioned that date.
Meanwhile, Cone will continue throwing before his next start, set for Tuesday.
“I don’t want to get too ahead of myself or sound too exuberant,” he said, “but it does feel much better. The ball coming out of my hand feels much better. (That’s) another old spring training pitcher’s cliche.
“It’s really true. It just feels like I can throw the ball with less effort.”
You don't suppose there's a chance... nah.... nevermind...