Pitchers play pepper to work on hitting technique
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It wasn't a time warp. It was Saturday. There, on an auxiliary field at the Giants' Scottsdale Stadium complex, were pitchers playing pepper.
This wasn't a recreational activity. It was meant for pitchers, particularly the starters who must bat in National League games, to improve their hitting skills.
"I think it's a good little drill to teach bat control," hitting instructor Joe Lefebvre said. "It helps you with situational hitting, moving the ball around. There are a lot of little things you can gain with it."
For the uninitiated, pepper involves a player hitting lobbed throws back to one or more teammates standing about 20 to 30 feet away. Accomplished pepper hitters can essentially aim where they hit the ball, and slick fielders can grab hard smashes.
Pepper gradually became less prominent in the 1980s. So were there some pitchers, particularly Minor Leaguers, who had never played pepper?
"There were a couple of guys who were a little rough," Lefebvre said. "But you'll see big improvement over a couple of days."