TRENTON – Earlier this week, The
Trentonian had the opportunity to sit down with Yankees pitching coordinator
Gil Patterson at Arm & Hammer Park for a discussion about all things arms
within the organization. With the exception of a few items saved for later use,
here is that conversation.
JN: When it comes to promotions,
what kind of factors does the organization look at before pulling the trigger?
GP: Being my first year here, and
every organization is different, sometimes need determines whether a guy goes
up or not, and then also who goes up. There’s different thoughts in it. Maybe a
guy’s age, maybe a guy’s performance that season. Let’s just take as an example
(Mikey) O’Brien’s case.
O’Brien was here last year, and
when the (Caleb) Cotham thing became available, it opened up a spot for him.
He’s pitched for well for us. In that case, that was kind of an easy fix.
Sometimes other ones are a little
more difficult to figure out. There were thoughts involved, and it’s a careful
decision. A lot of times, the person who makes the ultimate decision gets a lot
of input from just about everybody involved, except the player.
JN: How quickly does it take you
to identify what kind of role a pitcher could have when he reaches the major
GP: For the most part, that is
decided once you get to the big leagues. Here in the last 15 years, there’s not
too many guys around who are going to take Rivera’s spot. That means the
Robertsons and Chamberlains are going to be very effective in that seventh- and
All we try to do is just get them
ready. We might have where they can pitch and what role, but I’m not sure if
anyone knows – especially me – what’s actually going to happen at the big
league level until they get there.
JN: So if Brian Cashman calls you
and says, ‘Hey, we’re going to select, say, Burawa’ what would you say to him?
GP: I would say he is showing
signs of being quite ready, because of his stuff. That’s the physical side, and
I think that everyone knows that the mental side is just as important as the
physical -- if someone can handle the pressure of pitching in the big leagues
first, pitching in New York second. Our biggest goal now, mentally, is being
able to focus on one pitch at a time and not letting anything bother that, not
letting anything bother our next pitch.
I think if a lot people just read
Roy Halladay’s quotes this week, and the book that he read is a book that we
read, as far as the mental side. Getting guys that mental toughness and
discipline is extremely important for us, along with the physical.
JN: How has teaching mental
readiness evolved since you’ve been in this game?
GP: It’s something that people, I
think, for the most part, don’t practice enough. Going back to the Halladay
article, here’s a guy with two Cy Youngs and 200 wins, and he mentioned how he
got away from it a little bit and now has to go back and refresh himself. If
someone of that magnitude has to do it, then I think all of us have do it.
As a staff and as pitchers,
they’ve got to be able to (be mentally ready). Sometimes it’s having meetings
on pitching, and pitchers and pitching coaches have meetings on a daily basis
to go over the game, the mental and the physical side. Then we also have the
book that we read from. The kids read it and talk about it amongst themselves
and talk about it in front of the group. They do a nice job, the pitching
coaches that the Yankees have, do a nice job of making sure the mental side is
JN: With Rondon moving out of the
rotation, did you guys as an organization see what you wanted to see from him,
results aside? Was the goal, long-term, to develop him as a starter or was it
to develop him in different situations for an eventual role in the pen?
GP: Sometimes you never know.
He’s athletic, and he does have three pitches. And a lot of times when you’re
talking about a starter, those are some of the qualities they have to have:
Three pitches, and in his case fastball with some life on it, tight slider and
It seems like, for him to be
focused for those 100 pitches was maybe a little bit difficult. And we already
know that he’s been pretty good out of the bullpen. Sometimes you can catch
lightning in a bottle. And in this case we tried it. It didn’t work as well as
I had hoped.
So he’s back in the bullpen, and
in speaking with him, he’s happier about it as well.
JN: Will the experience make him
a better reliever?
GP: I think it should. I think it
will at least teach him that he doesn’t have to go in and just fire fastballs
all the time, that he does have two other, quality pitches that he can use to
get himself out of situations with guys on base. He doesn’t have to just rear back
and try to throw the ball as hard as he can.
JN: With Jose Campos in
Charleston, what does he have to do to get his workload ramped up past what
he’s been at in the early part of this season?
GP: When someone misses a full
season, as he did last year, you’re always cognizant of the fact that you want
to give him enough work that next year, but not too many (innings) to overload
him. I’m not sure if anyone knows the exact number of innings to give someone
after a year of being missed, but we pretty much have him on a three- to
four-inning stint. And we’re hoping that if we get those 25 starts or so, to
get him close to that 85- to 90-inning range.