(BaseballStL) -- Arturo Reyes had a bad night, his first poor outing as a member of the Peoria Chiefs.
The Kane County Cougars (Cubs) Class A team worked him over for 6 runs in the third inning, including a couple of roped doubles and a long three-run homer. Although he had been hit before, nothing compared to this night.
“I learned this game will beat you down,” he said the next day. “You just have to bounce back. You can’t let it linger. I’ll be ready for my next start. I’ll have a chip on my shoulder.”
That is exactly what pitching coach Jason Simontacchi wanted to hear. The night Reyes was getting pounded, the former St. Louis Cardinal pitcher made a slow trip to the mound as Reyes’ pitches got higher and left the infield faster than they came in.
A delicate spot, which Simontacchi knew, could be a defining moment in the young pitcher’s development.
“First, I made eye contact with him, got him relaxed a little bit and asked him what he thought had happened. It’s important for them to discover what it is that’s gone wrong. I wanted to hear him tell me what he thinks is going on. He was upset and his pitches were up. It was important for him to reset and get back to those things that had made him successful.”
The day after his worst start of the year, Reyes, 22, a 40th round pick out of Warren, Wash., was reflective. “I had been cruising along and I was trying to work on the change up. They got a couple of hits and I didn’t slow down the game. I left my fastball up and they got more and more aggressive.”
All part of the learning curve.
“He is not used to this,” Simontacchi said. “I don’t know where they came from (or what their previous experiences were). But I tell them you have to know yourself as a pitcher. You have to know the feel of your best mechanics so that when you make a mistake, you know it right away and can correct it yourself.”
Chiefs’ manager Joe Kruzel knows the pain that young men feel when they know they are failing. “Some people might have thought I should have taken him out earlier than I did,” he said the next day. “But they (pitchers) have to learn we can’t save them all the time. They have to learn how to handle these situations here, at this level.”
“Sometimes, after a game like that, I’ll wait until the next day to talk to the player and sometimes I’ll just sit back and see how he handles it. It’s important that he shows us that he knows how to.”
Two days later, after Reyes finished his side session with Simontacchi, his mood was noticeably brighter. “A feel a lot better today. My pitches are staying down in the zone. I was just trying to be too perfect with my pitches the other night. What I really regret (about that outing) is that I did not slow down the pace. Hitting is contagious and it had an effect on me. I have to hide that – push that aside – and pitch,” he said.
“These kids know when they’ve made a mistake,” said Kruzel. “ You’ve got to give them a little leeway. They are pretty resilient. They learn to let it go.”