DETROIT -- The call to Matthew Boyd came over the holidays while he was doing his workouts. It came from Chris Bosio, the new Tigers pitching coach, and he was introducing himself. Considering the video work Bosio had put in on Boyd, he already knew a lot about the lefty."He
DETROIT -- The call to Matthew Boyd came over the holidays while he was doing his workouts. It came from Chris Bosio, the new Tigers pitching coach, and he was introducing himself. Considering the video work Bosio had put in on Boyd, he already knew a lot about the lefty.
"He already had drills that I could work on in December that I implemented into my throwing program that really helped me out," Boyd recalled last week. "He really knew me in and out as a pitcher. He was paying really close attention to the things that I did throughout the season and the adjustments I made late in the year. He could just pick them up on the video. It was really impressive."
The call to Jordan Zimmermann came around the same time. Bosio knows Zimmermann from college, when Zimmermann was pitching at Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Bosio was coaching at a rival school in the state. Bosio also saw Zimmermann when he was an up-and-coming starter with the Nationals.
"He watched video on me and told me he noticed I was much, much slower last year going to the plate compared to what I was in D.C.," Zimmermann said. "I said that's a product of me running a thousand things through my head."
Michael Fulmer got a phone call as well as he was strengthening his arm in Lakeland, Fla., following ulnar transposition surgery.
"The thing that impressed me about him," Fulmer said, "is he already watched video of all our pitchers and he was already trying to help me on my slider."
The Tigers have had a relatively quiet offseason for player moves. Their biggest acquisition on the pitching side arguably was Bosio, whose departure from the Cubs caught many by surprise at the end of October. General manager Al Avila moved quickly to get him onto new manager Ron Gardenhire's staff, seeing the potential in Bosio to mold a young staff the way Jeff Jones worked with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello in the early part of this decade.
The work Bosio has already put in has backed that up. And as the Tigers try to build their next contending team around pitching -- some of it already in the Majors, some on the way -- there's already reason to believe they have the right man in charge of it.
"I think he's going to be really big for us, especially me, Michael and Matt," Norris said. "We're the young guys, and we obviously still have a lot to work on, and I think he's a very good teacher to have that's going to help us with what we need to work on. For me, personally, I've been very excited to work with him. I'm going to be a sponge. I'm going to soak up everything I can. I think that there's a lot inside of me that he can help unlock, and that'll help me reach my potential."
Bosio's video work began even before he was introduced. He knew some about the Tigers' young pitching, and he learned more by asking around and talking with people inside and outside the organization. But he wanted to see for himself what he had to work with. The talent, he said, is here. It's about putting them in the best position to match talent with performance and taking advantage of the opportunity.
Bosio does not have a cookie-cutter approach to pitching. Everybody is different, he said, and has to be coached differently. He does have philosophies and goals that apply to everyone, but those are more strategic.
"I want these guys to be able to go out there and throw any pitch at any time," Bosio said. "I'm a big believer on pitching inside. I'm a big believer in soft contact. And I'm a big believer in taking advantage of your defense, trying to be pitch-efficient. If you can do those things, you're going to be successful as a pitcher, not just as a Major League starter."
The other thing he believes in is speed, not in velocity so much as pace. If Major League Baseball ends up with a pitch clock in place for this season, Bosio does not believe his team will need it. He wants his pitcher waiting for the hitter to get into the box.
"That's the one thing that I'm going to try to stress with our pitching staff is dictating the tempo," he said. "We're going to play an up-tempo game. We're going to try to control the tempo of the game and then try to get three quick outs and turn it over to the offense and let those guys go to work."
It's more of a mental approach than physical, which reflects a lot of what Bosio teaches. He knows mechanics, but he wants to make sure there's a good frame of mind behind the pitch.
"Physically, they're talented. They're here. A lot of them, they just have to relax and be themselves, and I want them to do what's comfortable," Bosio said. "That's the reason why we drafted them or traded for them. The mental side is huge, I think more important than the physical. We've had a lot of success at the organizations I've been with really just allowing these guys to be themselves. There are some mechanical tweaks, but more mental than physical."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.