CHICAGO | At some point when general manager Rick Hahn upgrades the roster, White Sox pitchers who comprise the core going forward will have to be ready to slow down all-world hitter Miguel Cabrera.
Might as well practice now on the Detroit Tigers’ defending Triple Crown winner who entered Tuesday’s game batting .366 with 37 homers and 111 RBIs but was held hitless in the Sox’s 4-3, 11th-inning victory. A pregame survey revealed their ideas on the most thankless task in the American League.
• Lefty starter John Danks: “He’s the kind of guy you would consider changing (your pitching style) a little bit. The only thing we know to do is mix it up on him, move the ball around on him, change speeds. He’s that good that there are cases where you’re better off walking him like they were doing with Barry Bonds back then.”
• Closer Addison Reed: “Just throw your pitches. He’s up there like any other batter. Just because he’s doing well doesn’t mean you should go against what you’re doing the whole season. I’m going to go out there, throw my strengths and just trust my stuff. I’m not going to worry about how good he’s doing.”
• Lefty starter Jose Quintana: “I attack him. I go right at him. Let him hit. Early in the count, you want to go right at him. If you go at him sometime in the count where you have to be a little careful, it’s a different situation. Also, the game situation will dictate. There’s not one specific pitch (that had an advantage).”
• Setup man Nate Jones: “We don’t necessarily go in there thinking about the guy’s strength. We think about our strengths and what we do best – a sinker-slider guy, fastball-changeup guy or have four or five pitches. Now, if he gets you a couple of times on your strengths, then you might start adjusting to what he’s doing. He can do some amazing stuff. But you can’t be scared about that fact.”
• Setup man Matt Lindstrom: “You really got to mix and match with him with your whole repertoire. Four- and two-seam fastballs, you got to go in and out, up and down. At the same time, he’s got some of the best pitch recognition in the game. I faced in him Detroit, threw a really good fastball in on him, and he still hit it the other way – fly ball into right. It was four inches off the plate, in. The bat must feel like a whiffle bat in his hands.”
Cabrera himself said pitchers should try to think too much when facing him, or anyone, for that matter.
“They’re out there competing,” he said, adding the good pitchers won’t distinguish between him and other good hitters, and risk being distracted.
Then Cabrera turned the tables on a non-athlete.
“How would you pitch me?” he asked.
“Throw off the plate and try to get you to go after bad pitches,” was the reply.
“But what if you (unintentionally) threw it down the middle,” Cabrera said.
This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at DGemsNet@aol.com.