Touring the Bases With…Dick Bosman
Dick Bosman is the minor league pitching coordinator for the Tampa Bay Rays, rated the best young organization in the game. Â Much of that is derived from the unbelievable pitching talent Dick has the pleasure to work with. Â Here are his thoughts on his pupils.
TL. Â The Rays have the lowest runs per game allowed in the American League. Â You have to be proud of the pitching staff you helped bring through the system. Â How does that feel?
DB. Â You work with these kids day in and day out you get pretty close to them and you really feel great when they do well. Â You go through the ups and downs of their time in the minor leagues, so yeah, it feels good to see so many of them doing well, especially the guys that no one thought would ever make it past Double-A ball. Â But when they go out and compete like some of these kids are doing right now, it is great. Â Of course we have some fine talent. Â When the talent is not there to work with it’s hard to look good. Â But right now things are definitely looking up.
TL. Â David Price is looking this year like the pitcher everyone thought he would be coming out of Vanderbilt. Â What has gotten him to this point so quickly?
DB. Â Well first he is a big talent, but also he is a really intense competitor and a smart guy who, when he crosses that white line, puts it all together, all of the training and mental stuff that goes into pitching. Â When he is on the mound he has the ability to remember all of the things he needs to do. Â When he is in trouble on the mound he can think his way through a lot of it to find a solution. Â Last night he walked five guys, but he worked through that and pitched a great game for us anyway, battling through it all. Â The Rangers have one of the best lineups in the game and David kept us in that game even when he was not hitting his spots all the time. Â We were able to pull that game out because he competes so hard and puts everything out there.
TL. Â How good can Price be?
DB. Â He has the ability to be one of the best, but he has to locate his fastball better than he does some times now. Â That is what he works off, his fastball and he has great location with it now, but it will get better. Â But he has a great curve, change and cutter. Â They will all get better with time.
TL. Â Jeff Nieman is just a tick behind Price, but he turned it around in the Rays organization. Â What did you and the other coaches in Tampa do to get him back on track?
DB. Â We just helped see him through the physical problems he was having. Â With him that was a lot of it. Â Heck, I ask these kids every time they go out, “How do you feel?” Â They always say, “Great Coach.” Â Well I say, “Enjoy it, cause it won’t last.” Â They will not always feel good when they take the mound and that it a big part of the game, what you do when you don’t have that feeling.
TL. Â Jeremy Hellickson has come up twice now and been lights out every time. Â What is his future?
DB. Â We call him the silent assassin because he sneaks up on you with his stuff. Â He has all the pitches. Â Its all about staying away from the sweet spot of the bat, and he has the stuff to do that. Â He is going to be very good.
TL. Â You had a great slider when you pitched in the majors, tight with a lot of tilt. Â Do you teach that to the pitchers in the Rays’ organization?
DB. Â Yes I did, and of course I teach them that as well as I can. Â That was one of the reasons I got along so well with Ted Williams. Â He thought the slider was about the hardest pitch to hit and I had a good one. Â He was always encouraging me to throw it and it worked well for me when I pitched for him.
TL. Â A lot of pitchers have arm or shoulder surgery these days. Â It almost seems a right of passage it has become so routine. Â What is adding so much physical stress to young pitchers these days?
DB. Â I don’t know. Â If I did I would be making a lot more money than I am. Â But I think the wide assortment of pitches they have to throw to get the modern batter out is part of it. Â But they all have agents to watch out for them, and of course the owners want to guard their investment. Â Everyone takes great care with them, but I don’t really know what the problem is.
TL. Â I recently spoke to your old team mate Dave Baldwin who takes a more scientific approach to pitching and batters these days, and I found his article on how to set up batters very interesting. Â Do you see a day when science takes a bigger role in the game?
DB. Â I know there is value in some of that stuff, but these kids have so much on their minds when they take the mound today already, I can’t really see how much more we can ask them to remember. Â I know that sports psychology is really important and I have a call later today with Bob Rotella about some stuff. Â He is a sports psychologist who works with golfers, but pitching and golf are so similar. Hitting for that matter is too.
TL. Â The Rays are in a tight race with the Yankees this year. Â The great pitching is part of that. Â You have five incredible talents with Garza, Shields–one of those guys no one thought would pitch beyond Double-A, Price, Nieman and now Hellickson. Â You still have Wade Davis when comes back. Â Is that enough for you guys to catch New York?
DB. Â You bet we can. Â We have some fine talent. Â You can never have enough of it of course. Â We just had three pitchers go down in Durham within a week. Â One week and we lose three pitchers. Â It’s August for Pete’s sake. Â Where are you going to find three pitchers who can pitch at that level at this point in the year? Â You can only stretch so much. Â So we are looking at the independent leagues. Â You may get a scoop out of this one, but I think Ramon Ortiz is going to pitch for us in a couple of days in Durham. Â But you can never have enough pitching. Â We have some of the best, but there is never enough.
TL. Â With the talent you guys have can you keep hanging around the top of the AL East for a while?
DB. Â We cannot go out and buy talent. Â We cannot bring in a Sabathia like the Yankees can so we have to develop it. Â I think we have done a pretty good job of that and we have a great organization from top to bottom to do it. Â Our scouts are great. Â I work very closely with Mitch Lukevics, our director of player development. Â I am on the phone with him almost every day.
TL. Â Thank you so much, Dick. Â It’s a great organization and I wish you the best of luck down the stretch.