View Full Version : Notes: Coffey exudes confidence

03-12-2007, 10:17 PM
Coffeybro may enjoy this one. :)

Notes: Coffey exudes confidence
Lohse faces Griffey in simulated game; first roster cuts made
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Besides having experience and a roster spot locked up this season, reliever Todd Coffey has something else going for him that offers some extra comfort.


Only two years ago, Coffey was enduring his first big-league camp.

"I had a lot less confidence," Coffey said. "My first big-league camp, my first go-around, I thought I had to be perfect at everything, so I was tentative with a lot of things, a lot of pitches."

There's been nothing tentative about Coffey's approach this spring. In his three games, the 26-year-old right-hander has worked three perfect innings and struck out five.

"Coffey looks confident," Reds manager Jerry Narron said emphatically. "He looks like he knows he's a Major League pitcher that can get guys out, and rightly so. It's nice to see."

Last season, Coffey worked a club-high 81 games while he went 6-7 with a 3.58 ERA. Although he's gotten consideration for the vacant closer's role, he'll likely work in the sixth, seventh or eighth innings this season.

A still-in-development split-fingered fastball has the makings of giving Coffey another source of increased confidence. When he struck out the side on Sunday in his one inning against the Pirates, two of the outs came via the split-finger pitch.

Coffey stopped using the split-finger while in Double-A in 2004, and lost the feel of the pitch. He's been tinkering with it since last season but has worked on it and his mechanics with pitching coach Dick Pole and bullpen coach Tom Hume.

"It's another bullet for you," Coffey said. "It's another pitch you can throw at them, or you don't have to throw it, too. Because [hitters think] he has a split, that could be a way to lock them up with a fastball, or a slider."

One of the downed batters, Brad Eldred, brought back some memories.

"I had a little incentive behind that one," Coffey said.

"I remember Eldred hit the ball about 600 feet off him two years ago," Narron recalled. "The wind was blowing out, and I think he hit it five parking lots over. I'm serious. It was a bomb."

The game, played in Bradenton, was only Coffey's second appearance during that first big-league camp.

"I gave up three straight homers in a Spring Training game, all on four pitches," Coffey said. "He was one of them. My first pitch was a homer to right. The second pitch was a homer to center, and the [fourth] pitch was a homer over the interstate to Eldred."

Nice thing, that perspective.

Coffey credits veterans like Eddie Guardado, Mike Stanton and David Weathers with helping him develop as a reliever.

Like Eddie told me, 'Just grip it and rip it,'" Coffey said.

Lohse update: On the back fields of the Reds' complex Monday morning, Kyle Lohse threw 74 pitches in a simulated game. It was the second simulated action for Lohse since he suffered a strained right hamstring in his first start.

"Everything felt pretty good, but there are things I need to work on," Lohse said. "Five days from now, I'll be ready to go."

Take that: Two of the hitters Lohse faced were Ken Griffey Jr. and 2005 first-round draft pick Jay Bruce. More than a dozen players from the Reds Minor League camp came over and watched.

Griffey, who was trying to come back from a broken left hand, took his swings without any incident. His bat did not come through as lucky. Just like in Lohse's previous simulated game, Griffey broke his bat on a changeup.

"You're the first person to break two of my bats," Griffey told Lohse.

With new lumber during his later at-bats, Griffey sharply hit two balls back at Lohse on the mound.

"I was happy with it," Lohse said of the performance. "I got another bat off of Griff."

Injury report: Before his second at-bat against Toronto on Monday, outfielder Ryan Freel was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the second inning because of a tight right hamstring. Freel was listed as day-to-day.

Reliever Gary Majewski (right shoulder) took Monday off from throwing after making 35 pitches in his latest bullpen session on Sunday. The Reds hope Majewski can begin facing hitters in live BP this weekend.

First cuts: Before hitting the field Monday morning, the Reds made their first cuts of this year's camp. Left-hander Phil Dumatrait was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Outfielder Chris Dickerson and pitcher Calvin Medlock were optioned to Double-A Chattanooga. Pitchers Jason Kershner and Tom Shearn were re-assigned to the Minor League camp.

Cincinnati has 53 players remaining in camp, 50 active. (Guardado, Jeff Keppinger and Miguel Perez are out the rest of camp with injuries).

Coming up: Josh Hamilton got the day off to rest on Monday, but is on Tuesday's travel roster when the Reds play the Yankees in Tampa on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. ET. Aaron Harang will start for Cincinnati against New York's Mike Mussina.


03-12-2007, 10:19 PM
"I gave up three straight homers in a Spring Training game, all on four pitches," Coffey said. "He was one of them. My first pitch was a homer to right. The second pitch was a homer to center, and the [fourth] pitch was a homer over the interstate to Eldred."

Can someone get a link to the game thread of this one? :laugh:

03-12-2007, 11:41 PM
Can someone get a link to the game thread of this one? :laugh:

I can just imagine the various calls for Coffey to pack his bags for AAA.

03-13-2007, 12:14 AM
I've been wondering some things about Coffey lately, namely the 3-4 MPH he lost on his fastball.

According to folks that watched him the minors, he topped out at 97, and routinely reached 95. I haven't seen him approach those numbers in the majors on a consistant basis.

Has he been dialing back since reaching the bigs? Or were some of those radar gun readings in the minors a bit of an exagerration?

Is he taking a less tentative approach now that he's logged some serious big league innings?

If the anwer is yes to my last question, and if he's re-applied that splitter, we could be looking at the next great Reds closer.

03-13-2007, 01:37 AM
Todd Coffey improved in three key areas after last season's all-star break ...

1) Strikeout rate
2) Walk rate
3) Self-explanatory based on #1 and #2 ... strikeout to walk ratio

While Coffey may not be able to match the sharp improvements from the first half of last season to the second half - for example, a K/9 ratio of near 8.5 for the entire season may be asking too much - I'm looking for him to continue trending in the positive direction as 2007 unfolds. Last season was a major stepping stone development season for Coffey, and I like his chances to remain on that path.

All that being said, I'm predicting a very solid 2007 season for Coffey, and I believe he'll surpass last season's level of dominance. We all know this bullpen could certainly use that.

03-13-2007, 09:36 AM

Revival for the splitter
Coffey brings back old pitch

SARASOTA, Fla. - When the Pirates' Brad Eldred came to the plate on Sunday, Todd Coffey could only think about two years ago.

In just his second appearance in a big league spring training game, Coffey gave up three home runs on four pitches. The third was a monster home run by Eldred.

"It think he hit it five parking lots over," Reds manager Jerry Narron recalled.

"If it ever landed," Coffey replied. "It was a bomb."

The then-24-year old Coffey left a fastball up for Eldred to hammer. On Sunday, the 26-year old Coffey went back at Eldred and again gave him a steady diet of fastballs.

This time the result was different - the entire inning was different than the outing against the same team two years ago. Coffey struck out all three Pittsburgh Pirates he faced Sunday, including Eldred.

"I know where to put the fastball now. A strike is a strike, but a quality strike is different than a strike that can be hit," Coffey said. "You've got to fill the strike zone full, but you've got to fill it with your pitches. You've got to throw down and away and in the black, inside, up and in on the hands. You've got to stay away from the middle of the plate. I know where to put that fastball now."

Two years ago, Coffey was just trying to make the team. He was putting too much pressure on himself and trying too hard. He made it to Cincinnati in 2005, pitching in 57 games and recording a 4.50 ERA.

Last season, his second in the big leagues, he appeared in 81 games and had a 3.58 ERA. Still, Coffey deems the 2006 season a failure, because he struggled mightily in his stint as the team's closer.

In Coffey's first 23 appearances of the season, all as a setup man, he gave up only two earned runs and had a 0.65 ERA. He recorded eight saves as the Reds' closer, but in his last 18 appearances before the All-Star break, he had a 7.85 ERA. Around that time was when the Reds traded for closer Eddie Guardado, and Coffey was moved back into the setup role. Coffey didn't allow a run in his first nine appearances after the All-Star Game.

"I had a horrible four weeks when I was closing," Coffey said. "I'm glad I had it because I'm going to learn from it. I put too much pressure on myself and instead of pitching the way I pitch, I tried something totally different. I'm glad I had it; I wish I didn't."

Coffey said he tried to transform himself into the prototypical fireballing closer, even though that's not really his game. That's what a closer is supposed to be, he thought, so that's what he tried.

When Guardado came aboard, Coffey got a close-up reminder that throwing 100 mph isn't a prerequisite to be a closer. So Coffey talked to Guardado and tried to learn from the veteran with 183 career saves. Coffey has also talked extensively with David Weathers (41 career saves) and is looking forward to discussing the role with newcomers Mike Stanton (84 career saves), Dustin Hermanson (56 career saves) and Kerry Ligtenberg (48 career saves). Coffey is hoping the knowledge he gains from those experienced closers, plus his experience last season, will make him a better closer if or when he gets another chance.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want it, because every bullpen guy wants it, but I'm not saying give it to me," Coffey said. "Whatever happens, happens. First and foremost we have to win as a team. If we don't win, who cares? The ultimate goal is to get to the playoffs and win the World Series, not to be a closer."
When asked if Coffey would get another shot to closer, Narron was non-committal.

"Right now he's great in that role in the sixth, seventh inning with guys on base," Narron said. "We'll go from there. I know the time we used him as a closer last year, he would have liked to have done better. I don't think he thinks it was a failure. A lot of times setting up in the seventh, eighth inning you have to get tougher outs than the three you have to get in the ninth. He doesn't care about his role, he takes the ball and comes charging out of the bullpen to get somebody out."

When Coffey does come running out of the bullpen this season, he'll have another weapon with him. This off-season, he added a split-finger fastball that he abandoned when he first got to the big leagues.

"It was one of the points where I knew I was in the big leagues and I didn't have a chance to work on a pitch," Coffey said. "I was working on getting outs and staying up there. I didn't throw it for about four weeks and then I tried to throw it again and it wasn't there."

It's there now.

The biggest part, Coffey said, is that when he misses with the split-finger now, it's in the dirt and unhittable. When he lost the feeling for it, when he missed with the pitch, it would stay up in the zone and get crushed.

In fact, Coffey said he missed with the pitch with two strikes to Niger Morgan on Sunday. Morgan chased the pitch for strike three.

Coffey then struck out Eldred on fastballs, before getting Chris Aguila on a split-finger pitch that did work.

"For me, I think it's going to be a big strikeout pitch," Coffey said. "If a hitter knows you have it, you don't even have to throw it. We're trying to put another thing in their head. He might throw this, I've got to look at it. The more pitches they're thinking about, it makes it easier to push a fastball by them."

Or, in Eldred's case, three of them.

03-13-2007, 11:35 AM
I thought I vaguely recall a quote from Coffey last year about throwing less types of pitches so he could concentrate on just a couple.

03-13-2007, 12:55 PM
I gotta say, I love this kid. I'm concerned about his chances of regressing this year, though.