Sunday, March 02, 2008

My Brisk Chat With Randy St.Claire

"I am working with St. (Saint)."

"St. is staying after to help me on my mechanics."

"St.Claire is working with me on the video."

"Randy is always there for me."

"St. came in early to give me some extra work."

Praise toward their pitching coach is all Pitchers for Our Washington Nationals ever state. Apparently, Randy St.Claire is on the job 24/7. The Man who never seems to sleep must be pretty good at this coaching stuff. As in nearly every single interview I have ever conducted with a pitcher for Our Team--Our Number 46 has his name mentioned in thanks. Its quite incredible actually. So much so you might believe "Saint" might get an audience with The Pope next month for all his good deeds (said in fun). Even Our Former Catcher Brian Schneider trusted and appreciated Mr. St.Claire for his work ethnic.

Importantly, Randy is the only field staff member that remained from Frank Robinson's Helm of Our Inaugural Nationals. In fact, Randy St.Claire was retained well before Our Manager Manny Acta was hired.

And his re-signing was not the work of some self-indulgent, know it all, owner like the one that presides over a certain Football Team that plays in Landover. No. Randy St.Claire is a solid instructor and deserved the stability of a longer contract. From the days The Montreal Expos were considered for Contraction--Our Pitching Coach has remained the same. This man has seen it all and somehow--through the good and the bad--has helped to produce some solid staffs for this franchise. As I have stated before--Randy St.Claire can have this job FOR LIFE--with Our Washington Nationals--if he so desires.

For all he's done and the more he's capable of doing--Randy St.Claire was one of the most important staff members whom I wished to speak with at Training Camp in Viera, Florida. Hustling as always--Mr. St.Claire agreed to speak with me while he walked back to The Clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium from the practice fields. A 10 Minute stroll--if you take your time. Six Minutes, if you move at the quick pace of Randy. "Walk with me," he said. "I need to grab a quick lunch then head back out for Accelerated Camp. We can talk until I hit The Ballpark Door."

So we were off while chatting. And, Randy St.Claire didn't disappoint. Just like with his pitchers and catchers--he treated me the same. He was personable, pointed and instructional--all at the same time.

With that here we go with My Brisk Chat With Our Pitching Coach.

Every time I talk with a pitcher each and every one says you are always there for them. Where does your work ethic come from? (SBF)

"I don't know really. I have just always been that way. My Father probably. He always asked for the best from me. But, that's my job and it should be that way--shouldn't it (laughing)."

So true.(SBF--chuckling over his intensity and inflection--that, it would be crazy look to do his job any other way)

"I enjoy the game, I enjoyed the game growing up. I had five brothers and sisters. Every day, it was not sit at home and play video games. We were outside playing Hot Box, taking pop flies, Whiffle Ball, Home Run in the front and back yard. That was the day!! And, if one of them wasn't around--you always threw the ball up against the wall and played short hop or something (enjoying reminiscing). I gained an early appreciation of hard work, and that has carried forward to today."

"I love working with the guys."

And of course now, there is some good talent on the team. (SBF)

"Yes, yes there is. Its changed BIG TIME over the past three years. Big Time, since I first started working with The Expos--contraction was being talked about--people were being traded. The Team was suppose to be contracted and dealt away. They (Team Owners--MLB) were not worried about next year. They thought--'Hey, let's try to win this year. Why keep our kids. Who cares, when everybody is gone--no one will care--no one will be there!'" (understanding the situation, but I could tell, not happy with how The Expos eventually went down--trading away nearly all their top talent).

But, today, you have got to be pretty impressed with some of the guys The Nationals have picked up recently? (SBF)

"Yeah, I am. I am really happy. We have some real talent that I can work with. After a short lunch break, I am going right back over here (to the training facility) for Accelerated Camp. I going over there, see those guys--help out in whatever way I can. Those guys are our future. Maybe not this year, but soon after."

What about Patterson & Hill? Very talented guys and you would think--that one day--it would all fall into place for them. Then, the injury bug bites back. (SBF)

"Yes, but unfortunately, that (injury) is out of everyone's control. There is nothing you can do about it. Some guys just don't have alot of luck. (And sad too--SBF) Yes, it's very sad because they both have such great ability and talent to be quality Major League Pitchers. Boy, wouldn't you love to see that talent for a full season? We did see that from Patty. We saw what he could do in a entire season (2005). And, that was pretty darn good!! He was absolutely outstanding!!"

"So, if I can get (Jason) Bergmann, Patty, Hill all to stay healthy. And, if we could get The Good Lord to send us down a nice blessing that would be mighty special." (laughing)

If all three of those pitcher were healthy and at the top of the game--there are not many teams that could claim they have three solid starters. (SBF)

"No, not at all. Then, I could take these youngsters coming up behind them--that are doing a great job for us--and really turn the corner (with this franchise). We have (John) Lannan. We have (Matt) Chico, We have a nice young crop coming up behind giving us some good pitching depth. We could be very good."

Speaking of Chico--I read that he's throwing across his body and that is causing him problems. What exactly are you trying to correct? (SBF)

"Usually, you try to have a line (pitching form) straight to home plate. It's not absolutely necessary. There are alot of really good pitchers that throw across their body. When it becomes an issue, is when they can't execute their pitches because of their mechanics. Their form stops them from being able to reach a certain side of the plate or making the ball do certain things. (So, the pitcher has no command--SBF). Right. Chico's issue is not so much that he throws across his body--but his stride is so long that when he incorporates those two together--they really affected his ability to know where the pitch is going to go. Many times he would try to throw a sinker down and away and the ball would cut on him. So, we really worked hard on trying to shorten his stride up a little bit--so he can stay on top of his pitches."

"So, if he wants a sinker away--the ball sinks there. (Tommy) Glavine throws across his body more than Chico does. But, Glavine's stride is really short, so he is able to reach and get his pitches to the spot he wants."

Then, no matter how talented or live of an arm they you may possess--if you don't have the mechanics you will most likely never develop your top skill? (SBF)

"Yes, without a doubt. And, that has been the downfall of many, many pitchers. They can't adjust."

How does the trading of Brian Schneider and the adding of two new catchers (Paul LoDuca and Johnny Estrada) change things? (SBF)

"Brian knew these guys. He came up (through The Minors) with alot of them. They developed a working relationship. Brian is GREAT behind the plate. I had him for a long time--from A Ball to AAA, all the way up to here. So, I have worked with him for some time and believe he developed into a great catcher--and he is. But, then again--you can't take too much away from LoDuca and Estrada. They are pretty darn good in their own rights. Both of them have handled some pretty good staffs. Look, we lost a great one and we picked up two pretty good ones. And, we have one coming up from the wings (Jesus Flores) who I think is going to be very, very special."

Jesus Flores is an exceptional talent. (SBF)

"No doubt about it. No doubt about it. We are very lucky to have him under our wings."

With that--Our Brisk Walk came to an end. The Ballpark doors were directly in front of us.

Thank you for your time, I really enjoyed this opportunity. (SBF)

"You are more than welcome--I enjoyed it also--talking baseball is always good."

Sometimes, the personalities off the field are as good, if not better, than those on the field.

Randy St.Claire is a fascinating man. Clearly, he loves his job, and appreciates his chosen path to pass on the knowledge of The Great Game. I could sit down and talk baseball with this man all night long--and never get bored.

1 comment:

SenatorNat said...

Post has Bowden criticizing Patterson for not taking long enough stride; St. Clair criticizing Chico for taking too long of one which excentuates his coming across his body tendencies: in one day, I have now heard more about the length of a pitcher's stride as an issue than in a lifetime of following baseball, probably. It would seem that for Chico, the analogy might be that of a golfer taking the club back too fast and too far: maybe he needs to use the "two-foot" rule,a mental exercise, which is to think about the club (wind-up) for its first two feet on the backswing, which keeps wrist from breaking, and thus he can maintain a proper release point (which is the key for direction, according to Patterson) - the stride is supposed to be long, according to Bow-Bow, if possible, and if it doesn't confound finding controlling direction...

I am getting a wee inference in your interview and the Post that the Nats brass (Bow-Bow; Manny; and the Saint) are not counting on Patterson and Hill to be reliable health-wise in 2008. Probably realistic assessment. Certain wistful quality in the commentaries...

Trust in the Saint. All Good.