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'Two-headed monster' invaluable to Cubs' arms

Hendricks praises coaches Hottovy, Borzello; introduces pair to Chatwood
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- All the Cubs want from their pitchers is to be open-minded, execute their pitches, and trust their "two-headed monster," coach Mike Borzello and video coordinator Tommy Hottovy.

Kyle Hendricks does, and he encouraged new Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood to listen to the duo. Chatwood did just that in his last spring start Tuesday vs. San Francisco, and struck out nine Giants over five innings.

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MESA, Ariz. -- All the Cubs want from their pitchers is to be open-minded, execute their pitches, and trust their "two-headed monster," coach Mike Borzello and video coordinator Tommy Hottovy.

Kyle Hendricks does, and he encouraged new Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood to listen to the duo. Chatwood did just that in his last spring start Tuesday vs. San Francisco, and struck out nine Giants over five innings.

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"It's like a whole new world," Hendricks said of the Cubs' scheme. "Your eyes light right up. You can talk about it as much as you want, you can see it on the film, on the computer, but when you do it and commit to it and throw it and see the result, then you know you have it."

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Borzello, 47, is officially listed as the Cubs' catching and strategy coach while Hottovy, 36, is the coordinator of advance scouting and run prevention. Borzello prefers to call them the "two-headed monster."

"We do the same job separately, and then we meet together and kind of go over it with a fine-tooth comb," Borzello said. "It allows us to have two sets of eyes. It's been a dynamic that works for us. We don't speak during that time that we're breaking down [video], whether it's the lineup or our own pitcher until the end and until we're both finished with our work.

"We feel we're not missing anything," Borzello said. "There may be something I see, and he didn't and vice versa. That's allowed us to basically cover everything."

It was interesting to see the pair at work during Jose Quintana's start against a Triple-A team last Monday. Borzello sat on the field near the dugout while Hottovy, who had a brief big league stint as a pitcher, was in the stands filming Quintana. Between innings, Borzello and Hottovy would confer.

"We were focused on his curveball and the shape of it," Borzello said. "I happened to be on the side, so what I thought might be what I wanted, I wanted to double check and make sure [Hottovy] saw the same thing. We're in cahoots all the time and it's been a good working relationship."

What are they trying to do?

"One thing most pitchers can do maybe too often is talk themselves out of throwing certain things in certain situations," Borzello said. "I try to get them to at least understand why they should keep an open mind. It allows them to have a lot more options in a lot of different areas."

Hendricks has encouraged Chatwood to listen to the pair.

"The thing with Borzello is, you need to understand his language first," Hendricks said. "You can't get inundated with too much. It can snowball really quick. Just getting used to the language, talking to Borzello, seeing his philosophies, what he thinks, that's where [Chatwood] is at now.

"In the game he threw against the Giants, he did the things he typically wouldn't do and he saw the effects there. He's super excited to keep working with him going forward."

Video: Chatwood on joining the Cubs, lessons from Colorado

Part of the Cubs' recruiting pitch to Chatwood, a free agent who signed a three-year deal, was to convince him that their methods work.

"I don't know how similar or foreign it may be to [Chatwood] but he seemed intrigued by what we had to offer," Borzello said. "We had targeted him from day one when the season ended. We were well versed in what he does as a pitcher and what he could do going forward. He seemed open-minded."

Time will tell.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Hendricks