Q&A with B-Mets Pitching Coach Ricky Bones

The start to the Binghamton season has certainly provided its tests for the rotation, but its successes as well. Now two months into the season, pitching coach Ricky Bones shared his thoughts on how his staff has come along, including updates on Jonathon Niese, Eddie Kunz and more...

Inside Pitch Magazine: Now that we are a good two months into the season, what are you views on the pitching staff? How do you think your pitchers have developed as a group?

Ricky Bones: I think these guys are really coming along, getting better and making progress. Our pitchers are doing a better job of getting ahead in counts with strike one, staying ahead of hitters and they're doing a better job of using their finishing pitches. They're mixing in breaking balls and changeups while discovering how to use their fastball in hitter's counts and not use their fastball just trying to get a strike.

Inside Pitch Magazine: There was a stretch of play where the staff seemed to get knocked around a bit. What have you tried to communicate to them about consistency and what does the staff need to do to get there?

Ricky Bones: That's what these guys are here for. They are young pitchers and they are learning what it means to be consistent by using all their pitches, not giving into hitters and making sure they don't lose their mechanics. It's taken a slow process, and some guys move fast but some guys take more time learning to process information.

Inside Pitch Magazine: Jonathon Niese had a hot start and then had a tough string of starts, but seems to have turned it around in his last few outings. What are the strongest signs you are seeing from him? What does he need to continue to work on?

Ricky Bones: We certainly want all these kids to be successful and want it all to click for them right away, but that is not the case with many and it's the same for Niese right now. Sometimes he's going to struggle but it's better that he does it now in the learning process. You can see he's been better in his last couple of starts because he's mixing his pitches a lot better. He isn't just trying to after guys with his fastball, but he's mixing in his curveball and changeup for strikes a lot more which is something he got away from.

Inside Pitch Magazine: Bobby Parnell is another pitcher who has pitched through his own up-and-down stretches. As a pitcher who relied a lot more on his fastball/slider combination last year what do you think about the way he has come along?

Ricky Bones: Parnell was dominating one side of the plate and we wanted to see him attack both sides using all his pitches which he has started to do. As long as he keeps up that approach I think he'll really pick it up as the season goes along. I think in the past, like last season, he was just going after guys with his fastball and slider, pitching like a power guy. However, we want him to work his changeup a lot more this season which is why I think you've seen his strikeouts go down. We want him to really mix his pitches, and be a more complete pitcher, then just trying to throw the ball by hitters which he did a good job of, but we want to see him go deeper with his pitches. He needs to establish his fastball and get to his third pitch before he tries to strike hitters out. Once again, it's the learning process and Parnell is going through that.

Inside Pitch Magazine: Jose Sanchez was a guy you had last year, and though he has labored through his last few starts, he has been a pleasant surprise for this rotation already surpassing his win total last year. What are some thoughts on him?

Ricky Bones: The only downside with Sanchez has been the first inning. He hasn't started games as smoothly as we'd like, but he is pitching well. His breaking ball is really there for him early in the counts and late in counts, and he's changeup has been there. That's really positive for him because in the past he was just about throwing fastballs, but I've seen all his pitches develop this year.

Inside Pitch Magazine: Eric Brown, perhaps more than anyone, has suffered from inconsistency. Though he does not throw overly hard, his secondary pitches are his strong suit. What is he doing well? What does he need to do a better job of?

Ricky Bones: We've been really working on his slider and changeup with him. We've really been sticking to those pitches, trying to get him to throw them more so he can get more consistency. He's been leaving the ball up in the zone and trying to get more movement that wasn't really there. In his last few starts, he's got the ball down more and that's what we need to see from here on out.

Inside Pitch Magazine: Lastly, how do you think Eddie Kunz has come along this year? How are his slider and changeup developing? What do you think of his performance at the back of the bullpen?

Ricky Bones: We look at how a guy like Carlos Muniz, who was here last year, pitched. Muniz was 90-91 MPH who would hit his spots. Kunz is more about power who likes to throw his fastball hard and down in the strike zone and then mix in his slider and changeup. He's got really good pitches, but a lot of his success starts with his emotions which we'd like to see that controlled a little better. When his emotions get high, his pitches lose effectiveness, but in the last couple outings he's been much more settled down and his been throwing all of his pitches for strikes. When his slider and changeup are working, that makes his fastball much more effective. His fastball has plus-movement, as well as his slider, but we want his slider to become his strikeout pitch. We want him to throw that slider whenever he want for a strike but for a strikeout pitch as well.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: Now that we are a good two months into the season, what are you views on the pitching staff? How do you think your pitchers have developed as a group?
\r\n
\r\nRicky Bones: I think these guys are really coming along, getting better and making progress. Our pitchers are doing a better job of getting ahead in counts with strike one, staying ahead of hitters and they're doing a better job of using their finishing pitches. They're mixing in breaking balls and changeups while discovering how to use their fastball in hitter's counts and not use their fastball just trying to get a strike.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: There was a stretch of play where the staff seemed to get knocked around a bit. What have you tried to communicate to them about consistency and what does the staff need to do to get there?
\r\n
\r\nRicky Bones: That's what these guys are here for. They are young pitchers and they are learning what it means to be consistent by using all their pitches, not giving into hitters and making sure they don't lose their mechanics. It's taken a slow process, and some guys move fast but some guys take more time learning to process information.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: Jonathon Niese had a hot start and then had a tough string of starts, but seems to have turned it around in his last few outings. What are the strongest signs you are seeing from him? What does he need to continue to work on?
\r\n
\r\nRicky Bones: We certainly want all these kids to be successful and want it all to click for them right away, but that is not the case with many and it's the same for Niese right now. Sometimes he's going to struggle but it's better that he does it now in the learning process. You can see he's been better in his last couple of starts because he's mixing his pitches a lot better. He isn't just trying to after guys with his fastball, but he's mixing in his curveball and changeup for strikes a lot more which is something he got away from.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: Bobby Parnell is another pitcher who has pitched through his own up-and-down stretches. As a pitcher who relied a lot more on his fastball/slider combination last year what do you think about the way he has come along?
\r\n
\r\nRicky Bones: Parnell was dominating one side of the plate and we wanted to see him attack both sides using all his pitches which he has started to do. As long as he keeps up that approach I think he'll really pick it up as the season goes along. I think in the past, like last season, he was just going after guys with his fastball and slider, pitching like a power guy. However, we want him to work his changeup a lot more this season which is why I think you've seen his strikeouts go down. We want him to really mix his pitches, and be a more complete pitcher, then just trying to throw the ball by hitters which he did a good job of, but we want to see him go deeper with his pitches. He needs to establish his fastball and get to his third pitch before he tries to strike hitters out. Once again, it's the learning process and Parnell is going through that.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: Jose Sanchez was a guy you had last year, and though he has labored through his last few starts, he has been a pleasant surprise for this rotation already surpassing his win total last year. What are some thoughts on him?
\r\n
\r\nRicky Bones: The only downside with Sanchez has been the first inning. He hasn't started games as smoothly as we'd like, but he is pitching well. His breaking ball is really there for him early in the counts and late in counts, and he's changeup has been there. That's really positive for him because in the past he was just about throwing fastballs, but I've seen all his pitches develop this year.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: Eric Brown, perhaps more than anyone, has suffered from inconsistency. Though he does not throw overly hard, his secondary pitches are his strong suit. What is he doing well? What does he need to do a better job of?
\r\n
\r\nRicky Bones: We've been really working on his slider and changeup with him. We've really been sticking to those pitches, trying to get him to throw them more so he can get more consistency. He's been leaving the ball up in the zone and trying to get more movement that wasn't really there. In his last few starts, he's got the ball down more and that's what we need to see from here on out.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: Lastly, how do you think Eddie Kunz has come along this year? How are his slider and changeup developing? What do you think of his performance at the back of the bullpen?
\r\n
\r\nRicky Bones: We look at how a guy like Carlos Muniz, who was here last year, pitched. Muniz was 90-91 MPH who would hit his spots. Kunz is more about power who likes to throw his fastball hard and down in the strike zone and then mix in his slider and changeup. He's got really good pitches, but a lot of his success starts with his emotions which we'd like to see that controlled a little better. When his emotions get high, his pitches lose effectiveness, but in the last couple outings he's been much more settled down and his been throwing all of his pitches for strikes. When his slider and changeup are working, that makes his fastball much more effective. His fastball has plus-movement, as well as his slider, but we want his slider to become his strikeout pitch. We want him to throw that slider whenever he want for a strike but for a strikeout pitch as well.
\r\n
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