Peterson Learns Off the Field, Aims to Return to the Field Soon

The trading deadline has now come and gone, and it is usually the time of year when Rick Peterson can finally settle in and know fully the hand he has been dealt with a pitching staff. However this year has been a different one for the former Mets pitching mentor, a year spent away from the ballpark for the most part, and in a sort of “pitching lab,” working in the development of tools and techniques to help clubs and individuals attain their best performance, just not with one club.

A managerial change over the winter left Peterson, who had spent last season helping make John Axford into a closer and reshaping the delivery of Chris Capuano with the Milwaukee Brewers, a baseball nomad. The move came late for many teams solidifying staffs and left Peterson without a team for only the second time not in his career, but in his life. “It’s a little weird, but it has given me new perspective on the game and even on life, and I think it will help make me better when the phone rings again for whatever is the next job.” Peterson has not spent his time out of uniform idly sitting around and watching the waves crash in the shore near here is Manalapan, New Jersey home.  On the contrary, he has probably been busier with a multitude of tasks personal and professional than at any point in his storied career.

Trips to Italy (where he was married last month) and the Caribbean, attending school functions for his son, travelling across the country conducting seminars with Bloomberg Sports (whom he is advising on their analytic evaluation tools), helping run and manage his own company 3P Sports (which works with young players in technique and improving their game) and a great number of media appearances from Philly to Boston have kept the New Jersey resident engaged in baseball, and maybe learning more from a macro perspective than at any point in his career. “It has been great to talk to so many people, from players to agents to young developing talent, and really understand what they see as value in the game of baseball and how I can help them,” he added. “That has been really gratifying.”

What has also been gratifying to Peterson is seeing so many clubs embracing the use of data and technology to improve their on field play and protect the valuable investment they have made in players.  It is that type of data analysis that helped Peterson sculpt winning staffs with the Oakland A’s and the Mets, and helped get the Brewers back on track last year. “We have all this technology available today and companies like Bloomberg have made large scale investments into helping teams and players use technology to improve their performance, so seeing how the game is progressing is really impressive,” he added.  “Fewer guys are hesitant these days to use technology and data to improve, and that means we will hopefully see a better and more completely healthy player going forward.”

Even with his new scope of work, Peterson still longs to get back on the field, especially as summer turns to fall and the pennant races heat up. “Putting on that uniform is always a privilege, and it’s one I don’t think I ever took lightly, and I certainly take more seriously now than ever before,” he added. “This year has been one of continued growth, and now I want to take all of this work and help a club, should the opportunity arise and the situation is right.”

That situation could come this fall as clubs make their annual evaluation and changes of staff occur.  However Peterson adds, it has to be the right situation for it to work. “You need the right commitment and the right situation to be a success and what I have seen is that more and more clubs are willing to make more of an investment to win now and grow their player’s ability long term.  That is refreshing, and it makes me feel very good about where baseball is headed,” he added.

For Peterson, he hopes that he is headed back to the field sometime in the near future. It has been a year of growth and education, but for a guy who has spent so much time between the white lines and near the mound, the beach and the broadcast booth can still wait in favor of the day to day clubhouse activity, glove in one hand and laptop in another.

Posted under Analytic Evaluation, John Axford, Macro Perspective, Manalapan New Jersey, Media Appearances, Mentor, Milwaukee Brewers, Multitude, New Perspective, New York Mets, Rick Peterson, School Functions, Second Time, Staffs, Storied Career, Top Story, Trips To Italy, Watching The Waves, Waves Crash

This post was written by Jerry Milani on August 6, 2011

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Gem By Hernandez Good As One Thrown By Lee

Cliff Lee the Seattle Mariners left hander did his job going the route and took care of the New York Yankees the night before. Wednesday night it was Felix Hernandez the right hander pitcher of the Mariners who did his part. He also went the distance but his pitching gem may have been better than the one Lee threw.

It was a two-hit complete game 7-0 shut out over the potent Yankees lineup, 115 pitches and everything in his arsenal. As he said, “the slider, curveball, just tried to throw as many strikes as I could.” The Yankees could do nothing and seemed frustrated as they returned to the dugout.

Hernandez would not compare his performance to Lee. What mattered was the Mariners once again got two consecutive complete games from Lee and Hernandez.  And it was the second time this season that Lee and Hernandez won back-to[back games.

It was the third straight complete game for Hernandez, two of them going as a win. Lee got the win Tuesday evening in the Bronx, his third consecutive complete game. “It happens, it happens,” said Hernandez about what he and Lee accomplished over the Yankees the past two nights.

Was there an incentive to top what Lee did? “We’re different pitchers,” said Hernandez who has a career 15-3 record in the month of June. The 24-year old native of Valencia Venezuela also had 11 strikeouts and as play concluded moved to second in that department in the American League.

More importantly, as the Yankees have discovered, if the Mariners continue to get this type of pitching from Lee and Hernandez, well they can make some noise in the second half of the season.

“You talk about the impact that Lee has on this pitching staff, I think it pushes Felix,” commented Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. “I thought it was the best pure stuff that Felix has shown in a game.  He really dominated and kept their hitters off balance. It was a tremendous performance.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Hernandez “He’s as good as we have seen all year. His slider, changeup and curveball, he had it all working tonight. He’s got electric stuff.”

Hernandez finished the month of June with a 4-1 record and a 2.36 ERA and over his last four starts is 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA. “We knew his ability was there,” added Wakamatsu. “The key thing was getting the complete games.  Every time you have an outing like this it’s something to look back on and learn from it.”

The last time the Yankees had back-to-back complete games thrown against them was back in April of 2000 when Toronto’s Chris Carpenter and Kelvin Escobar did it up in Toronto. And it has not happened in consecutive home games since 1991.

Said Girardi, “Good pitching will always beat good hitting; that’s the bottom line.”  For the Mariners the bottom line is getting the rest of their pitching staff to follow in the footsteps of Lee and Hernandez.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Complete Game, Complete Games, Curveball, Dugout, Felix Hernandez, Game 7, Joe Girardi, Left Hander, Manager Don, Month Of June, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Pitchers, Pitches, Seattle Mariners, Second Time, Slider, Top Story, Tuesday Evening, Valencia Venezuela, Wednesday Night, Yankees Lineup

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on July 1, 2010