Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Craft man: Velasquez learning how to hold baserunners

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez is learning.

He tried Saturday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium to hold the ball, quick-pitch and slide step whenever he had runners on base in an 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays. He allowed two hits, one run, one walk and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings in his second Grapefruit League start.

View Full Game Coverage

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez is learning.

He tried Saturday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium to hold the ball, quick-pitch and slide step whenever he had runners on base in an 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays. He allowed two hits, one run, one walk and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings in his second Grapefruit League start.

View Full Game Coverage

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, pitching coach Bob McClure and others have emphasized the importance of holding the ball whenever Phillies pitchers have runners on base. Changing the length of time they hold the ball before they throw to the plate can disrupt the timing of batters and baserunners.

Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

"Pete has always mentioned Max Scherzer," Velasquez said. "I'm capable of holding the ball just as long as him. I'm not saying I am a Max Scherzer. I'm just saying that if I want to be like him, then I'm definitely going to try and be like him because he's a successful pitcher."

Video: Velasquez has high growth potential in 2017

Velasquez saw the benefits in the third inning when he held the ball longer than normal and slide stepped on a pitch to Troy Tulowitzki with Kevin Pillar on first base.

Pillar broke for second, but Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp threw out Pillar by a few feet.

"You could tell that he was totally flat-footed," Velasquez said. "He wasn't ready to go. Why do you want to [change] the timing? You want to keep them guessing."

"He even made the comment, 'Boy, you guys were right. This works,'" Mackanin said. "Once you get a player to recognize a little bit of a tool that can hold baserunners and even upset the hitter's timing, it's something you don't have to think about and it makes it easier to do both."

Video: DET@PHI: Velasquez on Spring Training, offseason

Velasquez recovered in the first inning after Pillar laced a single to left-center field. Velasquez thought he had Pillar out on two pitches, but home-plate umpire Junior Valentine called both pitches balls. Velasquez coughed and flashed two fingers to represent the two pitches he thought were strikes.

"That was a fake cough," Velasquez said. "I was like, 'Come on, bro.' Like, wow, how do you miss that? That was painted."

Velasquez said he knows he must keep those emotions in check during the season. Former Phillies ace Roy Halladay always said he worried only about the next pitch, knowing he could not change the results of the previous one.

Halladay excelled at that.

"Me and umpires just don't get along for whatever reason, I guess," Velasquez joked. "They don't like me or they can't see. I don't know what the case is. It's just one of those things where I've got to keep it under my tongue and just go about my business."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Vince Velasquez