June 2015 Recap
This June, RBI Club members and guests were joined by Bill Krueger and Mariners bullpen pitchers, Joe Beimel and Mark Lowe. The friendly banter that ensued gave us a firsthand look at the camaraderie these gentlemen share.
For those who missed the lunch or those who would like to relive the fun, here’s a few snippets from the Q&A.
Bill: (Joe), you grew up in St. Marys, Pennsylvania and you were drafted by the Pirates. That must have been a dream come true?
Joe: It definitely was. Just to get drafted in that area. My town has about 800 people in it. I’m actually from Kersey, which is the next town over. I went to St. Marys High School. Because the area is so small, they had to combine four or five towns to make a high school. So I grew up a Pirate fan. Getting drafted from there was pretty awesome.
Bill: (Joe), you came to the Bigs in 2001 and you’ve put together a pretty successful career. Most of it’s been in the bullpen. What have you had to learn along the way that’s allowed you to pitch for so long?
Joe: I think the main thing is not to get wrapped up in the result every day. Sometimes you go out there and you feel great. You make your pitches, come in after you’re done and you’ve given up a run or two. If you start thinking too much about that, even if you’re not concentrating on how you felt or how you pitched, it can ruin a season and get you a little nervous.
Bill: (Mark) What made you decide to sign with the Mariners? I was looking at that bullpen over the winter and thinking, “Wow, that’s a loaded bullpen for a right hander to decide to come back here.”
Mark: This is home to me. I started my career here. I met my wife here. I always tried to come back after I got traded and hit free agency. Every year I told my agent, “Hey. Let’s call Seattle first and see where we are.” And every year there was interest, but it just didn’t pan out.
Bill: (Mark) We remember you when you first got here with the dark slider and the 100 mph fastball. Obviously there’s a lot more to a career than just that and you had to live that. Tell us a little but about the journey. What allowed you to have success and then how you had to deal with going back to AAA.
Mark: I went to Texas and I had a couple good years. I actually had a good year in 2012 when my velocity just dropped. I lost about 4 mph. And I didn’t know why. I felt great. I wasn’t hurt. And then I hit free agency and I thought it was going to be the greatest thing in the world. It ended up being the opposite because you weren’t guaranteed a job on that team that took a chance on you.
I just went through a lot of mechanical issues. I had to learn how to pitch without 97. I went down to the minor leagues and had a couple cups of coffee along the way the last two years. But I took a chance this off-season and changed some workout routines. And it worked. Now I can pitch with velocity and get guys out in different parts of the strike zone, which is a skill I had to learn when I was only throwing 91.
Joe: I like how he says, “Only 91.”
Mark: Joe used to throw 99. That was before they had radar guns.
RBI Club Member: You both work with a lot of catchers. How do you rate Mike Zunino?
Joe: I wouldn’t tell him this, but he’s the best catcher I’ve ever thrown to. Hands down. I pitched to Russell Martin for three years in LA and I really loved throwing to him. Until last year he was my favorite catcher. The best I’ve thrown to. But Mike is just on a different level.
I pitch in the bottom of the strike zone for the most part. He is able to stick that ball when it’s low in the zone, but borderline. He gets so many of those balls called strikes just because he’s so strong and stable.
RBI Club Member: I know part of being in the bullpen is having to be ready to come in at any time. But what was it like to come in, in the first inning last week? What was that like compared to your normal outing?
Mark: It was really weird.
Joe: He’s lucky he was down there.
Mark: On the road I come out after the top of the first because I’m not going have to come in at the top of the first. We’re hitting. So I went down at the bottom of the first. Went to the bathroom. Came back and realized there were no outs yet. Then they called down to get me up.
Which, when Felix is pitching, we always say we put on our turf shoes because you’re not going to pitch that night. He can go 7, 8 or 9 innings.
So I got up and was just warming up. And then he gave up a homerun and I thought, “Oh no. I’m going to be in this game.”