Missions pitching coach Glenn Abbott

San Antonio, TX: One of our favorite interviews is Glenn Abbott, the pitching coach for the San Antonio Missions. He's the type of guy where all you have to do is throw out a topic and he's going to give you more information than you can imagine.

You don't need to prod him or ask for further clarification, when Coach Abbot breaks down a player, you're getting the complete picture.

Just make sure you have quite a bit of room on your tape recorder.

Abbott is an eleven-year veteran of the big leagues and is in his eighteenth year as a professional coach. He pitched in the big leagues for eleven years and was one of four pitchers in the first, and only, four pitcher no-hitter.

A long association with Grady Fuson, the Padres' vice president of scouting and player development led him to San Diego last year and he enters his second year with the organization.

You had Sean Thompson last year in Mobile. What has been his biggest improvement from the beginning of last year to now?

Glenn Abbott: From the end of last year, and he came a long ways last year, his confidence level is much better than it was. He still hasn't pitched like he's capable off, and I don't want this to come off as negative, but he still hasn't pitched like I know he can pitch.

Cesar Ramos always seems like he has a fairly high hits to innings pitched ratio. The Padres are always saying that once he gets to higher levels with better defenses his numbers are going to improve. What does he do well and what does he need to work on?

Glenn Abbott: In spring training we made some adjustments in his delivery by keeping his lower half underneath him a little bit more, because he tends to pitch up a lot and that is where you get into trouble. Since he's been here he's been getting some better angles on his pitches, he has a pretty live fastball, but his breaking pitches need to be more consistent.

He's got a little bigger fastball than Thompson correct?

Glenn Abbott: Yeah and it also has a little more life to it. He can get away with high fastballs a little more than Sean and he's trying to get a solid changeup in place. He has a good change, but it can be better. We're trying to get some more depth and consistency with his slider, which is all part of growing and getting better as a pitcher.

His best pitch is a curve correct?

Glenn Abbott: No, he threw that in college but we kind of made an organizational decision to have him just throw a slider. We've kind of scrapped the curve for right now and are working more on the slider. It's tough to get both going and he's trying to get the slider consistent.

Another guy I always get amazed at is Josh Geer. He throws three pitches, all of them average to good, but at the end of the day he always seems to be winning games. What is the reason behind his success?

Glenn Abbott: He changes speeds well, has a very good changeup and control. His problem is when he gets the ball elevated, but he's made a few adjustments with his mechanics which will help him keep the ball down more consistently. His fastball has some sink to it, he has a good change and he throws his breaking ball for strikes, there is no reason he shouldn't do well. He's very average on his pitches but what makes him work is his command. Changing speeds and a good changeup is going to get you out of a lot of jams.

Really it's like all these guys up here, it's about confidence. All of these guys who come up here think that they have to do something different than they did before. To me, you do what you do and then maybe the league might dictate that you might have to make an adjustment, but until then make them beat you're strength.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Glenn Abbott: That's right.

Mike Ekstrom is guy that we thought might be the typical college pitcher that we sometimes see. He has good control, changes speeds but then when they get up to high A or AA they don't have the stuff to really go forward. Last year Ekstrom surprised us with a very good year at Lake Elsinore with a fastball that was consistently in the low 90's, but he did struggle some in Mobile. What are your thoughts on him?

Glenn Abbott: What has hurt him more than anything else this year is he didn't get to have all the innings in the spring that we would have liked and is still playing catch-up. We have a two week window of games and the big league camp needed pitchers and they just didn't want any pitchers, they wanted someone good. He missed out on some innings that he needed to get, so he didn't really get a chance to get in all the work that the other guys did.

Randy and I talked to him and said you know April has really been your spring.

When he is effective, everything with him is down correct?

Glenn Abbott: Yeah, and that has been his problem this year, he's been up quite a few times. He had some bad luck in Mobile with run support last year. Right now his command is a little off and he's trying to do a little too much so he is playing catch-up. I think he'll be all right once he gets back to his groove.

Someone you spoke very highly about last year is Jose Oyervidez. He seems to have all the pitches, just some problems with his command.

Glenn Abbott: He's got good stuff; all of his pitches are quality pitches. His biggest problem is believing in himself. He's like a lot of young pitchers and the clubhouse is full of them we can talk to them, but when you go across that line it's about trusting what you have.

It seems you tend to focus as much, maybe a little more on the mental side of pitching as compared to the mechanics.

Glenn Abbott: Yes, definitely. The biggest part of baseball is believing in yourself. You'll see guys in the big leagues that have very marginal stuff, but they trust their stuff, which separates a lot of people. It's about getting these guys to trust what they have and let the chips fall where they may.

It may be the wrong pitch, but if you throw it with conviction and you believe you can get someone out its better than throwing the right pitch with doubt. Does that make sense?

Sure, what you're saying is you have to trust what you've done on the side sessions. And that is where you come in.

Glenn Abbott: Yes, trying to get guys where they believe in the pitch that they are throwing and executing it the right way.

Why don't we review your bullpen real quick and we'll start with Neil Jamison. He throws with a three-quarter motion but had some problems with left-handed batters last year. What have you been doing to work with him?

Glenn Abbott: Jamison throws strikes, he's aggressive. He had to work on throwing his fastball into a right-hander and away from a left-hander. He's more comfortable throwing on the other side of the plate. He's been working on using both sides of the plate. He keeps the ball down very well, throws strikes and has good command. He should do fine for us and has a lot of confidence in himself.

The rest of your pen has been pretty good as well this year.

Glenn Abbott: Frank Brooks is a left-hander who we picked up in the spring, has thrown very well for us. Abraham is better than he was last year. I've always liked Abby, he's got a good fastball and slider and he's made a few adjustments in his delivery and has been throwing the ball very well. He's throwing his fastball down in the zone much better with improved velocity. Jon Searles is another kid we picked up who has a good slider along with Ellis who's made a lot of improvements from last year.

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