Perhaps the highest of hopes for the Detroit Tigers this spring fall upon new pitching coach Rick Knapp, whose emphasis on throwing strikes and keeping pitch counts low is the perfect elixir for a staff that walked too many batters and wasted too many pitches last season. (The voting totals for this week's poll only underlines that point.)
So curiosity over Knapp's coaching methods was bound to be high. And we got our first example of that today from Lakeland, with a drill used to help his pitchers with their location.
The Tigers call them "knee-to-knee" drills. The point is to have the catcher spot his glove on either knee and have the pitcher try to hit the spot.
"It's a concentration tool, really," manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday afternoon. "You're not really airing it out or anything, but you're concentrating on getting the ball down. You use your mind and your arm the same -- in other words, to tell you where [the ball's] going. If your mind's telling you to throw it there, you see if your arm gets it to that point. It's pretty good."
It would've been interesting to see who was excelling with the drill and who might have been struggling. Unfair, perhaps, since it's mere days into Spring Training. Plus, given the nature of the exercise - with pitchers not letting it rip - maybe everyone was doing okay. But I somehow have visions of Dontrelle Willis hitting coaches and executives as they're having conversations off to the side.
Next, Knapp will employ a giant mirror for another drill. I really hope someone snaps a photo of that.
UPDATE: Tom Gage mentioned that Fu-Te Ni was good at the "knee-to-knee" drill, but I think that was just to make the "Ni" to "knee" pun.