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Rox coach works to keep pitchers connected

@harding_at_mlb
April 8, 2020

DENVER -- Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster on Wednesday said that Zoom meetings with his pitchers, which began this week, have lessened some of the inevitable isolation that comes with following public health recommendations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Foster, in a conference call with Denver media, said

DENVER -- Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster on Wednesday said that Zoom meetings with his pitchers, which began this week, have lessened some of the inevitable isolation that comes with following public health recommendations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foster, in a conference call with Denver media, said the club has set up pods for the Major League pitching staff, as well as each of the Minor League staffs, for their weekly calls. Yes, some of it has to do with keeping a pitching arm sharp and going over mental skills despite not knowing when play will begin. But a lot of it is meeting the challenges we all face -- being in this together while obeying restrictions on gatherings.

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“It pales in comparison to just seeing faces and laughing,” Foster said. “And if we need to cry, we’ll cry. Most importantly is that we are connecting, that we are staying engaged, that we’re encouraging, that we’re finding out the information from guys and how they’re doing.

“No one has been here before.”

Some highlights from Foster’s conference call:

Lambert could throw soon: The right forearm strain that forced Peter Lambert, a candidate for a rotation spot, from a March 10 appearance against the Reds, was diagnosed as “mild to moderate,” Foster said. If all goes well with rehab, Lambert can begin a throwing program in roughly three weeks.

The magic range: “It’s going to take a normal 20-25 days to get guys built up enough to where you can play games,” Foster said. “The pitchers are all aware, through our communication, of what they need to be doing.”

As together as possible: While following public health officials instructions, there are pitchers who work in pairs -- Kyle Freeland and Jeff Hoffman, Chi Chi González and Jairo Díaz, and Carlos Estévez and Antonio Senzatela.

Additionally, Freeland has purchased a portable mound, as has righty reliever Scott Oberg. Foster said many of the pitchers are adept at new video technology, some have their own units and co-pitching coordinator Steve Merriman is on hand to lend his expertise.

A lesson, wrapped in a meeting: Foster said Rockies mental skills coach Doug Chadwick, after discussion with the coaches, picks a YouTube clip for the pitchers. The most recent: “The Reasons Why Most People Fail -- Don’t Make This Mistake,” with author, speaker and pastor John Maxwell.

Family time: Foster’s daughter, Lauren Foster, is a standout shortstop for the University of Wisconsin softball team. Father and daughter are workout partners, since Lauren’s next season won’t be until next spring. Foster also has a brother, P.J. Foster, whose plans to retire from the U.S. Navy were derailed by the outbreak. He was en route home from the western Pacific Ocean.

“He’s been recalled, and now he’s on a warship,” Foster said. “I love our country. I’m proud of what I’ve seen our country do to safeguard and protect its people and do all we can moving forward to get the curve flattened. The sooner we slow the virus, the better chance we have to get back to normal life, including baseball.”

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.