Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon wants Jeremy Hellickson to cut back on his cutter

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon usually likes what happens when Jeremy Hellickson takes the mound, given his 18-10 record and 2.88 ERA in 36 career starts, and the 2011 American League rookie of the year award with his name on it.

But Maddon is not particularly pleased with how Hellickson, who takes on the Angels tonight, has been pitching since incorporating a cutter into his repertoire this season.

"The problem is when a young pitcher who's had a lot of success tries to introduce a new pitch into the mix, then he's possibly taking away from something else that he does really well," Maddon said.

"You only get so many opportunities to throw a pitch in a game. I don't mind the idea that he's messing with something that might be good for him down the road. But most of the time the hitters are going to tell you when you need to become more creative."

Maddon prefers Hellickson, who is 2-0, 3.26 in starts against the Yankees, Tigers and Blue Jays, stick with his basic weapons of fastball, changeup, curveball.

Hellickson, 25, says he doesn't necessarily want to throw the cutter so often, but it has felt good and he feels it has been working, especially when he has fallen behind in counts.

He has, however, cut back. Based on data, he threw the cutter on 17 percent (20 of 118) and 25 percent (25 of 99) of his pitches in his first two starts, and less than 6 percent (6 of 106) in his last start.

"It's feeling good, it's getting a little more consistent," Hellickson said. "It's just a matter of figuring out when to use it."

HEAD GAMES: Maddon has been saying for more than a week that the starting pitchers, except for RHP James Shields, have not been aggressive enough in challenging hitters. Tuesday, after watching LHP David Price deliver a gem, Maddon acknowledged that it might have to do with spending all spring hearing, and reading, how good they are.

"We're starting to right ourselves on the mound. There's some momentum to be gained. I think maybe in the beginning the starters were applying a little too much pressure on themselves based on a lot of the pre-season conjecture and stuff,'' he said. "I like where we are right now. I think they're starting to really just morph into that nice little understanding.''

MATSUI UPDATE: An expected minor-league deal with former All-Star OF/DH Hideki Matsui could be finalized today, with the Rays declining comment until then. Matsui, 37, will head eventually to Triple-A Durham, where the Rays will see if/how well he hits, then if they have a need. Maddon did say, in general, depth is a good thing.

MR. TEXTBOOK: Maddon often raves about the outfield play of Ben Zobrist, specifically how fundamentally sound he is. "Everything he does out there is textbook," Maddon said, "and that's the part I really appreciate about him being out there."

Maddon said Zobrist could be the model for an outfield instructional video and went so far as to put him in the same sentence as Hall of Famer Al Kaline. "That's not a bad comparison," he said.

MISCELLANY: Rays pitchers have gone 52 innings without allowing a homer, 72/3 shy of the team record. … Desmond Jennings had his second career leadoff homer. … L.A.'s Albert Pujols was hitless, extending his current skid to 0-for-16 and his season-starting homerless streak to 69 at-bats. … SS Reid Brignac, unhappy with his demotion after Friday's game, joined Triple-A Durham on Sunday. … CF B.J. Upton said he got a thank-you message from the 16-year-old patient he visited at All Children's Hospital before Saturday's game. … Today is the Rays-St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Carillon Hilton.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon wants Jeremy Hellickson to cut back on his cutter 04/24/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 12:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.