Sunday extra: Zumaya gets advice
If Sunday was the day that Joel Zumaya started to break out of his pitching funk with his 1 1/3 scoreless innings, he can give a little thanks Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones for helping chase it. Neither will take credit, but their talks with Zumaya helped chase out some of the frustrations Zumaya was battling on top of his inconsistent location.
"It will humble you," Rogers said. "If you get too high, for lack of a better word, it will bring you down to where you realize this game isn’t as easy as I hoped it would be or thought it would be."
Rogers talked to Zumaya before batting practice Sunday morning about not letting his frustrations get the better of him, among other things. He went as far as to say it’s not a bad thing for him to struggle on occasion.
"We all understand what he’s capable of doing," Rogers said. "He’s entitled to struggle once in a while. He’s going to. You just hope his struggles are going to be limited.
Jones talked with him about being patient with trying to get back in sync.
"What he’s got to realize," Jones said, "is he’s used to looking in the paper and seeing a 1.90 ERA and a bunch of strikeouts and no walks. What he’s got to do now is [realize] he can’t try to get it all back in one outing. That’s a tough thing for a young guy to try and learn. You’ve just got to start piecing things back together. That’s what I was trying to stress to him the most.
"I don’t care about how he pitches on a particular outing, because he’s going to be fine. Everybody has hiccups. But what you can do is help a guy who hasn’t been through that, give him a blueprint to help him get out of it. And as a guy who’s had his brains beat up several times, I feel like I’m an expert on it."
As for Zumaya’s radar gun readings, including a handful of mid-90s and one fastball topping out at 100, he said he was throwing two- and four-seamers to try to get a feel for it again. He’s not proclaiming that he’s back yet, not with two walks out of the six batters he faced.
"I’m not going to get ahead of myself," he said. "It’s not going to be over with in three days, but it’s the beginning of it. I feel more comfortable. My ball was down in the zone and I was working my fastball pretty good. Now let’s just get that breaking ball over and I’ll be OK."