How Kintzler helped Coonrod reinvent self

June 19th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- got the call at his suburban St. Louis apartment in early January. The Giants just traded him to the Phillies.

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi’s call took him by surprise.

“I don’t think anybody sits around thinking they’re going to be traded, you know?” Coonrod said Friday afternoon at Oracle Park.

But the trade has worked well for the Phillies and Coonrod, as the right-hander has a 3.29 ERA in 26 appearances. He has struck out 28 and walked seven in 27 1/3 innings. He has boosted a bullpen that needed help following a historically bad 2020.

“We’ve been really pleased,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “His ability to throw strikes has been really good with high velocity. He’s done a pretty good job of keeping the ball on the ground. He’s thrown the ball. It was a really good trade for us.”

Coonrod had a 9.82 ERA in 18 appearances last season with the Giants. In two seasons in San Francisco, he had a 5.74 ERA in 51 appearances, striking out 35 and walking 22 in 42 1/3 innings. Coonrod credits mechanical changes and Phillies teammate Brandon Kintzler teaching him how to properly play catch for his turnaround, which includes a career-high strikeout rate (24.1 percent) and career-low walk rate (6.0 percent).

Coonrod has mentioned Kintzler’s involvement previously, but he broke down exactly how he helped him play catch better.

“I would bend over more to throw farther,” Coonrod said, showing how he reared back to throw long distances. “And you don’t do that on the mound. And I would bring it to the mound inadvertently. And now, I’m keeping that posture, I’m keeping those same mechanics as I have on the mound and staying [upright] instead of just being inconsistent. You don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t realize I was bringing those habits to the mound.”

Coonrod is throwing his two-seam fastball and slider more than last season. He is throwing his four-seam fastball less.

It seems there are no analytical reasons for it.

“I’ve always been a little more comfortable with that one-seam grip as opposed to the four-seam,” he said. “I don’t know why. It just feels better.”

So far, it is working.

Carson Ragsdale, whom the Phillies traded to San Francisco, is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in eight starts with Class A San Jose. He has struck out 61 and walked 13 in 33 innings.

Segura thinks he could be back soon
The Phillies thought it might take a few weeks to recover from his Grade 1 left groin strain, but he said Friday he believes he could return shortly after he is eligible to be activated on June 26.

“I don’t think it’s going to take long,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with this my whole career, so I know when it’s good, I know when it’s bad, I know when to take the time I need. I just know it because I know my body. Hopefully, I can come back and continue to do what I’ve been doing.”

Segura is batting .332 this season. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, it would be the fifth-best mark in baseball.

Segura is motivated to return as soon as possible. He has been in the big leagues for 10 seasons, but he has never made the postseason. He said it is his No. 1 priority.

“I don’t want to go home in [October],” he said. “It doesn’t feel right.”

Maybe he can return soon, stay healthy, help the Phillies make the postseason and win a batting title.

“That would be nice,” he said, laughing.

Two options from Triple-A?
Two players at Lehigh Valley worth watching are outfielder and closer .

Vierling is 5-for-12 with one RBI, one walk and three strikeouts in three games since his promotion from Double-A Reading. He hit .345 with a 1.065 OPS in 102 plate appearances with Reading. The right-handed-hitting slugger caught Bryce Harper’s eye in Spring Training.

“He’s played extremely well,” Girardi said.

Feliz has not pitched in the big leagues since 2017, but he is 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA and four saves in 13 appearances. He can exercise an opt-out clause on July 11, so the Phillies have time to make a decision on him.

Girardi said Feliz has not come up recently in discussions. If that time comes, the Phillies will need to clear a spot for him on the 40-man roster. The same holds true for Vierling.