If you get to Bradenton this year, or even if you just listen and read the numerous player interviews, you probably will hear about all of the talented arms at the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training. It’s true. We watched Jonathan Sanchez fire missiles in his bullpen work. Andy Oliver did the same thing. Justin Wilson is a monster and has burned catchers mitts for years. Tony Watson can bring it too.
But translating the talent to the field has been the part that has driven us crazy.
And we haven’t even seen Francisco Liriano on the mound yet. Liriano might send us over the edge.
Everyone that calls themselves a Pirates fan knows that PNC Park is custom made for southpaws. But since the team hasn’t had a winning season in twenty years, it’s apparent the ballclub hasn’t capitalized on it. In 2013, the collection includes left handers who have no problem striking a batter out per inning at times, but throwing strikes with regularity, well, yeh that’s been a problem.
[Pirates Fan] I’m a Pittsburgh Pirates fan and this time in Bradenton has been the craziest time in my Pirates fan life. All of these left handers throwing live bullpens down here. It’s going to be a great 2013!
(Catchers mitts are being blown off their hands by blistering fastballs in the background. Demonstration only. Do not attempt.)
[Pirates Fan] WOW! I think the Pirates will win 105 games, screw 95 like Hurdle said. I already bet my neighbor $500 bucks after I saw all these lefties. I’m the smartest Pirates fan I know. And if you believe the Pirates will fix all of these southpaws struggles overnight, you could be making bets with your neighbors too.
[Pirates Fan] So drink the Kool-Aid like I did, you can make money from your neighbors like me.
[The Really Deep Voice Guy] Dollar for dollar, nobody protects you from Mayhem like RumBunter.
[Hard throwing left-hander] I’m that crazy Pirates southpaw that you think is going to finally find the strike zone.
(Simulated bullpen with fastballs bouncing off the fence, curveballs two feet in front of the plate…. Demonstration only. Do not attempt.)
[Hard throwing left-hander]
I’m digging the Pirates giving me another shot. The Twins couldn’t fix me. The White Sox couldn’t fix me. But the Pirates think they can. I’m the smartest southpaw I know. And I did it with a broken arm! BOOO!!! Merry Christmas Kids@!!#@#!!!
If you believe in this shit, you could be driving yourself to rehab this summer.
(Based on typical Pirates LHP production from the 20 past seasons; subjected to the bullshit that goes with being Buccos fan, conditions & availability.)
[Big booming commercial voice]
So go to RumBunter, you can laugh and be better protected from Mayhem. Dollar for dollar, nobody protects you from Mayhem like RumBunter.
It’s pretty easy to see the reason why Jonathan Sanchez was available. It’s also easy to see why Justin Wilson will probably never be a consistent major league starter. Andy Oliver can be added to that list as well.
We’re not saying these pitchers aren’t talented. Far from it. The collection of southpaws in Bradenton is impressive in terms of swing and miss stuff. Add Jeff Locke and Kris Johnson to the sugar at the bottom of the Kool-Aid mix and you’re probably a bit excited about how this might turn out too.
It’s hard not to get excited when lefty after lefty throws hard, has some junk, good hooks, it’s pretty easy to understand how these guys can strike batters out. Past collections of left handers for the Bucs really couldn’t do that consistently–Zach Duke comes to mind, Brian Burres, hell Scott Olsen could be his own real life Mayhem commercial. Sure the Pirates had Paul Maholm and many of you loved his stuff–the guy had a solid season in 2012, but that’s one guy.
The names of left-handers that have driven us crazy with their inability to put it all together on the mound rolls off the tongue, and yeh some of them are obscure, but so are you. Erik Bedard. Scott Olsen. Dana Eveland. Phil Dumatrait. Oliver Perez. Dave Davidson. Shane Youman. Mark Redman. Dave Williams. Dennis Reyes. Scott Sauerbeck.
The list wouldn’t be complete without a Jimmy Anderson mention.
So yeh, southpaw disease isn’t anything new to Pirates fans. It’s just really painful.
The most painful part of this mess is that our favorite southpaw of all time Donnie Veal (using another insurance commercial line—we love you
Jessica Donnie!) is having the career we thought he would back when we wrote this…..
The Pittsburgh Pirates pursuit of left handed relief pitchers always interests me. Our hearts will forever be connected to one left hander. We still don’t quite understand why the Bucs wouldn’t show patience with such a talent, but they are a lot smarter than I am of course.
If you are a regular around here, you already know that lefty is Donnie Veal.
IT SIMPLY SOUNDS DIFFERENT
I was walking behind the bleachers at McKechnie Field the first time I heard it.
It was a glorious sound. The sound that so many of us have heard throughout our lives probably several thousand times. But this time it was different. It was crisp. It was louder. The sound was very distinct. A pop that was so quick it demands attention. I had to immediately find out who was responsible for such a glorious sound. My pace quickened.
The sharp popping of a Pittsburgh Pirates catcher’s mitt is something that makes me smile, especially as I am speed walking to the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen during a bright sunny day in Bradenton, Florida. Spring Training—ahhh, such a great feeling.
The sound is heard a lot more now especially with our relief corps, but this was two years ago.
When I reached the bullpen area I was first impressed with the size of the man making Ryan Doumit’s mitt explode. It was Pirates left hander Donnie Veal.
Joe Kerrigan was all over the young lefty. Each pitch was watched closely. It was easy to see the guy was special.
He is recovering from Tommy John surgery after pitching with the Indianapolis Indians last season. He pitched well with Indy, but the news of the TJ surgery was insanely disappointing.
Veal didn’t have many opportunities to pitch for the Bucs after being the Pirates Rule 5 pick. So after the 2009 season, he headed to the Arizona Fall league with plenty to catch up on and much to prove. He was planning to work on several of the adjustments Pirates pitching coach Joe Kerrigan had suggested. Veal took a new delivery and a new power pitcher mentality to the desert.
Veal was described as being unhittable in one outing. There was no denying that it had finally clicked for Veal in the Arizona Fall League.
He pitched extremely well, so well in fact that the Pirate lefthander went 1–0 with a 0.00 ERA and was named the AFL Pitcher of the Week on November 2, 2009. In two starts with the Scottsdale Scorpions, he surrendered five hits and two walks while striking out seven batters in 7.2 innings of work.
Veal was named to the All-Prospect team when the AFL season concluded. He wrapped up the AFL by allowing five earned runs, 17 hits during his 21 innings of work. The bad guys hit .221 against him.
The control was back too. He struckout 22 and walked seven.
“He threw the ball over the plate more. The stuff is electric. He doesn’t need to paint the corners, and he went out and didn’t do that. He was really good early and still finished pretty strong.”—Kyle Stark
In case you didn’t see the first post on Veal that Rumbunter did here it is….this is why we feel compelled to cheer just a little bit harder for Donnie Veal.
But that was then, Veal pitched poorly after Kerrigan’s firing and they cut him loose. Of course, now Veal is killing it for the Chicago White Sox big club, and this post by a White Sox blogger thinks Donnie Veal might be special.
Look at what he writes….
Veal played well in his 24 games for the White Sox after he was called up. He posted a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings and struck out 19 batters. I remember that Veal seemed unhittable when he was pitching.
Donnie Veal will always be special. We MISS YOU DONNIE!
So perhaps the lesson from all of this foolishness is left-handers need patience. Wish we had some.