Manuel Corpas and the dangers of civilization

Today is Manuel Corpas’ turn in the Rockies’ closer competition, especially with Huston Street showing that he’s capable of the job. Corpas is scheduled to pitch Friday against the Mariners at Peoria.

Corpas didn’t give up any runs in his last outing, earlier this week against the Cubs, but in many ways it was a disturbing outing. He walked three, and was saved partly becuase catcher Chris Iannetta threw out Alfonso Soriano stealing. But in the middle of the inning, manager Clint Hurdle and not pitching coach Bob Apodaca went out for words with Corpas. When the manager makes the initial visit, the words aren’t gentle.

But when Corpas returned to the dugout, Apodaca had plenty to say.

On one of the early pitches of the inning, Corpas thought he had a strike, and his body language on the mound let umpires, opponents, teammates and pretty much everyone in the stadium know how he felt. It’s a body language that doesn’t win the favor of those who decide whether a pitch is a strike.

“I told him not to lose it, because he is the potential closer,” Apodaca said. “If that was the ninth inning and he had the same body language that he was showing his teammates … That’s what I told him, ‘You need to show your team that you’ve got everything in control.

“And I didn’t like the way he was throwing the baseball. Everything was flat. Everything was from the side. He needed to have some angle to his pitches.”

But this is where things get tricky.

The conduct was obviously what the Rockies don’t want. But the attitude that led to it was wonderful.

Apodaca noted that it was the heart of the Cubs’ regular-season lineup, and the best set of hitters Corpas has faced this spring. Corpas was understandably pumped, and wanted to go after someone.

The intensity Apodaca saw reminded him of the Corpas who turned heads as a setup man in 2006 and early 2007, and was dominant in late 2007 and through the playoffs. It was a streetfight mentality from a guy who didn’t know any better than to go out and try to destroy a batter’s confidence.

When Corpas struggled early last season and eventually lost the closer role, Apodaca felt he had become more gentile. So what made Apodaca mad in the game against the Cubs also made him happy.

“I saw more of what we wanted to see,” Apodaca said. “I saw more energy. I saw more of an attack in his mannerisms, even though he was unsuccessful as far as strikes. That’s the attitude he had. He had confidence that he could attack the strike zone, and the pitch would be in a quality location.

“Last year, I thought he became civillized. I thought he became a guy who tried to make perfect pitches. When you lose that slight edge right there, there goes that quality movement. It still has to be under the umbrella of timing and rhythm, but then absolutely seeing an area you want to throw to and aggressively going to that area.” 

2 Comments

Let the beast out if it means Corpas is a bad bad man! I hope Apodaca is seeing everything he needs to see to keep him high on Manny. He’s got great command and I hope he is very dominant this season. Thanks again Thomas for being part of the Timeout series. I received a ton of great comments on how impressed people were with the Rockies beat writer. Way to represent.
Tom
http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

Thanks much. I enjoyed the interview. This Corpas situation is an interesting bit of coaching. On one hand, he needs aggressiveness. On the other hand, it can get him into trouble. But many times that’s what coaching is all about, helping channel strong human emotions.

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