WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- When Nolan Ryan talks, you listen. That's why Astros manager A.J. Hinch had the Hall of Fame pitcher and Astros executive advisor address a group of starting pitchers Wednesday morning before their 8-4 win against the Twins, where the message was about preparation.
Ryan, whose son Reid is the Astros' president of business operations, has been in camp for a few days. Among the pitchers who participated were Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton, Collin McHugh, Joe Musgrove, Mike Fiers and Brad Peacock.
"That was a treat," Hinch said. "It's nice to have one of, if not the best of all time, at your discretion to talk about the mentality of being a starting pitcher and the responsibility that comes with it. It was a really cool experience. I get to talk to him all the time, but every single time I walk away feeling a little bit bitter about my knowledge of pitching."
It's no secret Astros starting pitchers had troubles in the first inning of games last year, and Ryan gave some thoughts on that.
"It's more about just preparation and what you want to kind of do as far as your routine's concerned during the season and your approach to the game and trying to pitch as much as you possibly can, from a standpoint of pitch count," Ryan said. "Just general stuff, and then we opened it to questions and gave them an opportunity to ask if there was something on their mind."
Even though Ryan hasn't pitched in nearly a quarter century -- McCullers was born 11 days after Ryan threw his last pitch on Sept. 22, 1993 -- his message still resonates with younger players.
"They may not understand some of the names that are dropped in those stories, or they may not recognize them, but they appreciate greatness," Hinch said.