- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Jordan Zimmermann’s quiet rise to All-Star status
Question of the Day
Brost got only four responses, and the teams that did wanted to look at Zimmermann as a catcher because he was undersized for a pro pitching prospect.
“He was the best catcher in the entire area,” Brost said. “The only reason I pulled him out from behind the plate was because I knew he could pitch and he had the ability to be really special. Did I see he’d be able to reach 95 mph? I’m not so sure I thought that was possible. It’s impressive. It’s amazing.”
Brost watches Zimmermann pitch now and chuckles at his size, and all of the power he can generate from his legs.
“I can’t believe how big his [butt] is,” he said with a laugh. “He told a couple buddies around town that he has to have all his pants tailor-made now because he’s built his bottom half up so much.
“But I think I’m very lucky to be part of that. Nobody gets that opportunity, to coach a big league player. Our whole town has that ownership of him.”
Establishing an identity
Zimmermann is not Stephen Strasburg or Gio Gonzalez. He did not march his way to the major leagues under unrelenting hype. He was not the centerpiece of a prospect package. He does not brood, like Strasburg. He is not gregarious, like Gonzalez. He has a quick wit, and talks plenty with his teammates and friends. Brost said Zimmermann was “probably the craziest kid you’ll ever meet” when around his friends despite his soft-spoken nature with others.
His 2011 innings limit, part of his rehab plan after 2009 Tommy John surgery, went largely unnoticed outside of Washington. He hardly knows any major league players other than his teammates. He chatted with Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee on his way to Citi Field on Monday. They talked hunting and fishing.
While his under-the-radar success makes it seem as though he could’ve been an All-Star last year, or perhaps even in 2011, Zimmermann also struggled for a time with throwing too many strikes — a stubborn unwillingness to waste pitches. As a result, he’d sometimes hit a wall in his starts, with high pitch counts in the fifth or sixth inning, and one bad pitch hit for a homer would ruin an otherwise strong performance.
It wasn’t easy for McCatty to get the idea across to Zimmermann that it’s OK — necessary, even — to throw pitches outside of the strike zone. It took time. It took trial and error. Mostly it took him failing enough times to listen.
“Kind of like chipping away on the ice going ice fishing,” McCatty said. “At some point, there’s a breakthrough.”
Early in the 2011 season, McCatty took Zimmermann into his office and bluntly laid out his thoughts on the right-hander’s progression. He could continue to throw a breaking ball and a hard fastball and pound the strike zone without regard for situations, or he could learn how to pitch.
“It was pretty much point-blank to him: Until the point comes when you decide that you’re going to make your misses where they should be instead of just saying, ‘I’m going to throw strikes,’ this is what you’re going to have,” McCatty said. “‘It’s a decision that you have to make.’ After that, he just took off.”
“Fishing and pitching are similar in the strategy part of it,” Zimmermann said, running through how he reads hitters now.
For example, if they’re late on the fastball, he won’t throw a change-up, which he might have in the past. “If one bait’s not working, you switch it up and put a different bait on. If the fastball’s not working, you switch it up and throw something else.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors