Q&A with Nardi Contreras

We sat down with Yankees Pitching Coordinator Nardi Contreras to get updates on Ferdin Tejeda and Jesse Hoover, what he saw in the debuts of Chase Wright, Matt DeSalvo, and Phil Hughes, why Ross Ohlendorf has been struggling, what Edwar Ramirez needs more than anything, what he wants to see from Angel Reyes, and much, much more.

PinstripesPlus: From my understanding, Ferdin Tejeda has been pitching in Extended Spring Training. Where is he stuff-wise and health-wise? Will he be ready to get out of EST sometime soon?

Nardi Contreras: He's been very, very good. I believe he pitched [a few] days ago, which I got to see him pitch and he threw the ball really well...really well. He mixed in some sliders and he's always got the real good changeup. I would say probably one more outing [in Extended Spring Training] and then he's probably on his way out of here. If he can repeat the way he threw the ball the other day, stuff-wise and not strike-wise - he's throwing a lot of strikes - but trusting that his arm doesn't hurt and throw the ball like he did in his last outing, he has a chance to get out of here after his next outing.

PinstripesPlus: Along those same lines, Jesse Hoover has made a few appearances in Extended Spring Training. What have you see from him and is he almost ready to get with a team soon?

Contreras: Well I think Jesse's a little further away because Tejeda was able to do some things coming back with his arm and stuff. Jesse, with his back, really wasn't. We had to really shut down Jesse a while. He hasn't been on the mound in two plus years. Jesse's stuff is there. He's back to his old velocity, somewhere around there, but his release point and delivery is not as stable as Tejeda's [right now]. He'll probably be a little bit longer, yes.

PinstripesPlus: Talk about Chase Wright. Yeah he gave up the four straight home runs against the Red Sox, but do you think that's going to shake his confidence at all?

Contreras: Let's talk about the start before that, the start where he got the "W" [win]. Everybody wants to talk about the four straight home runs. How about the first start where he got himself the "W"? He didn't pitch like Chase Wright is capable, but he pitched well enough to get the "W", the win. His first inning was his nervous inning, he might have given up two runs. He gave up one later, but he pitched well enough that he kept our team in the game. In the second game, his control was not as good, made a lot of mistakes, and when you make those mistakes in the Major Leagues, they hit the ball. They're bigger and stronger [in the big leagues] and he gave up four in a row. I was down in Trenton when they sent him back down and he had a real nice bullpen. I think he pitched twice in Double-A and then went to Triple-A. I think he gave up one hit, a couple of walks, and one run through the fifth inning and then in the sixth inning he walked three guys and then he came out of the game, so it looked ugly, his numbers. In the second game he gave up one run in Triple-A ball. He has pitched decent in Triple-A. In regards to the four home runs shaking his confidence, I'm not worried at all. I was there when he came down from the big leagues, we did his bullpen, and I got to talk to him. That's why I stayed there before I left Trenton. His confidence level is there, he just made some bad pitches and they [the Red Sox batters] did what they were supposed to do with bad pitches. That bullpen that day, if he threw 35 pitches, he hit his spots 28 or 29 times. He was great, so no, it didn't affect him.

PinstripesPlus: Well Matthew DeSalvo was a guy who had such a bad year that most people completely wrote him off but looked pretty good in his big league debut. What did you see from him in that start, and as good as he was that night, do you see room for improvement?

Contreras: Sure there's always room for improvement. I think he could pitch better, but to go out and pitch seven innings in your first start, in Yankee Stadium for the New York Yankees, seven innings and one run - and remember the one run came in the first inning when you're probably the most nervous - and then six shutout innings after that where I think he gave up just a couple of hits, that's very good. He was very, very good. He can mix up pitches, he can spin the baseball, he's got a tremendous changeup, and the hitters didn't know what was coming. Even though he made some mistakes and didn't hit some locations, because they didn't know what was coming out of Matt DeSalvo, they weren't able to attack the ball and be as aggressive. He was mixing his changeups for strikes, he was mixing in his two sliders for strikes, he was showing his curveball, so they didn't know what was coming. That was outstanding for Matty.

PinstripesPlus: Before he pulled his hamstring, what did you see from Phil Hughes in his first two starts?

Contreras: Well Phil in his first outing was a little excited. You never know with Phil because he gives you that game face at all times. But he was a little jumpy. He did not command the ball like he's capable of commanding, but he threw enough strikes that Joe Torre and Ron Guidry were impressed with the way he attacked the zone. I think he walked one guy in five innings, in whatever amount of innings he went. I think the two guys that hurt him were right-handed hitters, Rios and Wells. I think they got five of the seven hits he gave up. With five strikeouts and one walk, I think that's what his numbers were, that's not bad for a 20-year old at the Major League level. And in his second outing, well, you know what happened in that second outing. I guess he had it all together and then the hamstring. He's down here now [Tampa] and get himself back, hopefully to New York.

PinstripesPlus: Ross Ohlendorf is off to a bad start to the year, especially considering the season he had last year and what he was able to do in Spring Training this year. What's going on with him?

Contreras: I got to see him in Pawtucket and it was like 35 degrees, or something like that. It was really cold that day. What Ross was doing was he was picking the zone too much and not being as aggressive toward that strike zone. After his outing - I think he walked like four guys - I spoke to the two catchers and I spoke to Ross about using that hard-sinker and using the middle of the plate, just off-center, and let it work for you. Let that sinker work for you over the plate and let them hit a ground ball. If it finds the hole, it finds the hole, but at least we've got guys trying to field the baseball and we've got a chance. We don't have a chance when you walk guys. We don't want him giving in to those guys' [opposing batters] talent and stuff. When you've got the baseball in your hands, be aggressive and throw strikes. He is mixing in his new curveball. He had a real good slider that night and he's got a pretty decent changeup. In fact, the night of his last start, he threw 12 or 13 changeups and 9 or 10 of them were for strikes, so he's got a pretty good changeup for the future in New York. He's got some arm strength, he's learning a new delivery, while he's pitching at the Triple-A level, which is tough. He'll be alright.

PinstripesPlus: The entire Trenton team seems to be pitching well this year. What did you see from them during your trip to Trenton this year?

Contreras: Jeff Marquez was great. He was throwing strikes with both fastballs, he's going downhill and sinking the ball, he's throwing strikes with his curveball and his changeup. He has really matured and he's attacking the zone. Marquez is doing well. Alan Horne was pitching great and I think he's still pitching great. He has gotten used to his new [arm] slot, he's commanding the fastball far-side, hitting that mid-90's area with real good hard sink, he's got the curveball, he's got the changeup which has developed tremendously, he has a lot of action with the changeup and the slider is there, so Alan Horne is going to move quickly. He has done really, really well. Brett Smith went another - I don't know how many innings of shutout baseball he threw - he gave up two runs the other night but had no walks and seven strikeouts. All of his breaking balls, his changeup, he's throwing them for strikes. He's throwing it [the changeup or breaking ball] for strike one and he's throwing it with three balls for a strike and he's mixing in a fastball that the hitters are just not seeing. We're very happy with the way he has come along. Jason Jones has pitched really well. In his last outing his stuff was shorter and over the plate. He has pitched really well. His slider, his split, he's hiding his fastball. I know there was some scout who was following Trenton for a couple of weeks during that stretch and he told Scotty Aldred that he has never seen a staff, every one of them, pitch so well for so long. The bullpen, the starters, everybody was pitching well. The relievers we have there, Gerardo Casadiego is closing and that's his role. We've got Mike Gardener, Jeff Kennard, Kevin Whelan, who are all throwing the ball well. They were all part of that shutout bid, and Edwar Ramirez too.

PinstripesPlus: Talk about Ramirez a little bit. He has been putting up the great numbers so far. What can you tell us about his stuff and does have a third pitch to go along with his fastball and changeup?

Contreras: His changeup is the best in the organization by far now. He has passed Marquez, he has passed DeSalvo, with his changeup. In his last outing he pitched three innings and struck out eight guys. He was locating some fastballs. Everything clicked for him that game. When I saw him, he had more changeups that he had to go to because the fastball was not in his command, but he was still throwing strikes with it. When he commands the fastball with that changeup that he throws, with his slider too, they don't smell him. They don't touch him. That changeup that he has is a monster. For Ramirez, that slider is all it is, just a show me pitch. Our biggest idea for him, what we're trying to do, is to fix his delivery to be able to command a fastball. If he commands a fastball with that changeup he has, he pitches in the big leagues. If he command the fastball - he has an average fastball - the slider will just be a show pitch once in a while. For whatever reason, he can command the changeup, but the fastball he tries to put a little too much on it and he doesn't control it as well. He really hasn't been with us for a full year yet, but things are happening real nice for him.

PinstripesPlus: Ian Kennedy won pitcher of the month honors for the Tampa Yankees in what was really his first month with the Yankees. What have you seen from Ian so far?

Contreras: I haven't seen him pitch in a game yet, but I saw his bullpen session the other day. His delivery is getting so much better. He's staying back, he's getting the ball out front, his changeup is awesome, he's starting to learn and mix in the two-seam fastball, and [in the bullpen session] the two sinkers I saw were tremendous. The curveball is getting a lot more consistent where he gets it out in front. I know he has been pitching well.

PinstripesPlus: Not many got to see much of David Robertson before Spring Training, but he came into the organization as this power arm with not much else and it seems to be the exact opposite. In fact, is his arsenal extensive enough that perhaps he could be used a starter?

Contreras: Well I wouldn't go that far. He's a two-inning guy right now. We'll protect him like we did J. Brent Cox two years ago. This is his first year. He'll pitch two innings, get two days off, and then pitch two innings again. What he has shown is he has some deception with his fastball, he's got some life to his fastball. I think he has been throwing just an average fastball [velocity-wise]. I don't know if he throws any harder than that but the fastball he's throwing is enough. What I do see out of Robertson is that he has a quality curveball. He had a little slider but we put that slider in the back pocket. So he's going to develop the curveball and he's going to develop the changeup, which he has been throwing one changeup an outing. So instead of the slider, he's going to throw the fastball, curveball, and the changeup in those two innings. If he throws 15 pitches in those two innings, he'll maybe throw one changeup. If he throws 35 pitches, he'll throw three or so. We use that ten percent rule. He didn't give up a run his first month or something like that. In fact, the first run he gave up was when I was there and in fact, I think it was on the slider. That's when we made the move on his slider.

PinstripesPlus: Michael Dunn, until his last outing, was pitching lights-out. Has anything changed with him or is he just steady as he goes?

Contreras: Dunn is still continuing to learn his delivery. It's still not as good as we'd like it right now, but he's getting his arm up. He's got that quality slider, his changeup is there, he's got that two-seamer, and he throws strikes. Even when he was giving up those hits, he didn't back away from throwing strikes. A lot of young guys, when they get hit, they don't want to throw strikes and they start walking guys. Well he kept challenging guys even though it wasn't in the good location, here's a strike. He's not there completely, delivery-wise, but he's having a lot of success until that last outing. But that's part of baseball. If you can get four out of five good outings, or five out of six, we'll take that, whatever level you're at - the big leagues or the minor leagues. We're very happy with the development of Dunn.

PinstripesPlus: Grant Duff doesn't seem to be the same pitcher I saw in the Gulf Coast League last year. What have you seen from Duff?

Contreras: Well when I was there Duff pitched six innings and he gave up one run or something like that. The stuff was not quite as crisp and hard. He's working real hard with Carlos Reyes in improving his delivery. In the Gulf Coast League, you can get away with a lot more pitches than you can in the South Atlantic League. He had stuff. He was throwing the ball harder then, but he was throwing the ball harder after this Extended Spring Training time. Maybe that's what happens, in June or something like that maybe he starts throwing with a lot more velocity than he is right now. But again, he's working real hard to fix his delivery. He's throwing strikes, he's not walking nowhere near as many guys than he did last year. No he's not getting as many strikeouts either, but he's getting deep into games at Charleston. I think his last outing he pitched seven innings or somewhere close to that. He's doing well. I still see him as a reliever but he's getting innings and learning how to pitch.

PinstripesPlus: Angel Reyes can look unhittable one night and not seem to find the plate on other nights. Is that his biggest obstacle right now, just commanding the pitches that he has?

Contreras: Yes, that's exactly right. In the bullpen [sessions], he's throwing the ball really well. I saw a couple of his bullpens - the bullpen before his start and his bullpen after his start - and I was like, 'woah, very good'. He went into the game and tried to put a little more on his stuff, he was a little off wild-wise. So then he'd try to take a little bit off to throw more strikes. I'd rather he learn how to throw more strikes being him. If he's going to throw in the low-90's, throw in the low-90's, don't try and take something off to throw strikes, because that's not the type of pitcher that he is. He's a pitcher that's got a high ceiling because of the stuff that has. He's got a tremendous curveball, his changeup has developed - in fact the day I saw him he threw so many changeups, which is good but I still would have liked to have seen some more power stuff from him. Being 19 years old in that league, he's got the stuff but when hitters aren't chasing his stuff because it's a little too far out of the strike zone, he starts taking something off of his arm to start throwing strikes. He's a kid we work with everyday doing some dry-work, find his release points, and all of his pitches.

PinstripesPlus: Ivan Nova is going to Charleston. Were you able to see any of his rehab games?

Contreras: I got to see one inning in his last game. The stuff is there. His stuff was like it was before we shut him down. The fastball, the velocity, the curveball - I think he was like ten out of twelve with his curveball - it was quality and for strikes. His changeups were there too, so he's got the pitches. He may scuffle a little bit to start off with in Charleston because he lost out on time being down, but it's okay. He's going to compete, his stuff is there, and he's in the strike zone. Will he be perfect in the strike zone right now? No, but that's why he's in Charleston and not in the big leagues. He's got a plus arm with plus pitches and we'll see some great things out of Mr. Nova.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus: From my understanding, Ferdin Tejeda has been pitching in Extended Spring Training. Where is he stuff-wise and health-wise? Will he be ready to get out of EST sometime soon?
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\r\nNardi Contreras: He's been very, very good. I believe he pitched [a few] days ago, which I got to see him pitch and he threw the ball really well...really well. He mixed in some sliders and he's always got the real good changeup. I would say probably one more outing [in Extended Spring Training] and then he's probably on his way out of here. If he can repeat the way he threw the ball the other day, stuff-wise and not strike-wise - he's throwing a lot of strikes - but trusting that his arm doesn't hurt and throw the ball like he did in his last outing, he has a chance to get out of here after his next outing.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Along those same lines, Jesse Hoover has made a few appearances in Extended Spring Training. What have you see from him and is he almost ready to get with a team soon?
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\r\nContreras: Well I think Jesse's a little further away because Tejeda was able to do some things coming back with his arm and stuff. Jesse, with his back, really wasn't. We had to really shut down Jesse a while. He hasn't been on the mound in two plus years. Jesse's stuff is there. He's back to his old velocity, somewhere around there, but his release point and delivery is not as stable as Tejeda's [right now]. He'll probably be a little bit longer, yes.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Talk about Chase Wright. Yeah he gave up the four straight home runs against the Red Sox, but do you think that's going to shake his confidence at all?
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\r\nContreras: Let's talk about the start before that, the start where he got the \"W\" [win]. Everybody wants to talk about the four straight home runs. How about the first start where he got himself the \"W\"? He didn't pitch like Chase Wright is capable, but he pitched well enough to get the \"W\", the win. His first inning was his nervous inning, he might have given up two runs. He gave up one later, but he pitched well enough that he kept our team in the game. In the second game, his control was not as good, made a lot of mistakes, and when you make those mistakes in the Major Leagues, they hit the ball. They're bigger and stronger [in the big leagues] and he gave up four in a row. I was down in Trenton when they sent him back down and he had a real nice bullpen. I think he pitched twice in Double-A and then went to Triple-A. I think he gave up one hit, a couple of walks, and one run through the fifth inning and then in the sixth inning he walked three guys and then he came out of the game, so it looked ugly, his numbers. In the second game he gave up one run in Triple-A ball. He has pitched decent in Triple-A. In regards to the four home runs shaking his confidence, I'm not worried at all. I was there when he came down from the big leagues, we did his bullpen, and I got to talk to him. That's why I stayed there before I left Trenton. His confidence level is there, he just made some bad pitches and they [the Red Sox batters] did what they were supposed to do with bad pitches. That bullpen that day, if he threw 35 pitches, he hit his spots 28 or 29 times. He was great, so no, it didn't affect him.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Well Matthew DeSalvo was a guy who had such a bad year that most people completely wrote him off but looked pretty good in his big league debut. What did you see from him in that start, and as good as he was that night, do you see room for improvement?
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\r\nContreras: Sure there's always room for improvement. I think he could pitch better, but to go out and pitch seven innings in your first start, in Yankee Stadium for the New York Yankees, seven innings and one run - and remember the one run came in the first inning when you're probably the most nervous - and then six shutout innings after that where I think he gave up just a couple of hits, that's very good. He was very, very good. He can mix up pitches, he can spin the baseball, he's got a tremendous changeup, and the hitters didn't know what was coming. Even though he made some mistakes and didn't hit some locations, because they didn't know what was coming out of Matt DeSalvo, they weren't able to attack the ball and be as aggressive. He was mixing his changeups for strikes, he was mixing in his two sliders for strikes, he was showing his curveball, so they didn't know what was coming. That was outstanding for Matty.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Before he pulled his hamstring, what did you see from Phil Hughes in his first two starts?
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\r\nContreras: Well Phil in his first outing was a little excited. You never know with Phil because he gives you that game face at all times. But he was a little jumpy. He did not command the ball like he's capable of commanding, but he threw enough strikes that Joe Torre and Ron Guidry were impressed with the way he attacked the zone. I think he walked one guy in five innings, in whatever amount of innings he went. I think the two guys that hurt him were right-handed hitters, Rios and Wells. I think they got five of the seven hits he gave up. With five strikeouts and one walk, I think that's what his numbers were, that's not bad for a 20-year old at the Major League level. And in his second outing, well, you know what happened in that second outing. I guess he had it all together and then the hamstring. He's down here now [Tampa] and get himself back, hopefully to New York.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Ross Ohlendorf is off to a bad start to the year, especially considering the season he had last year and what he was able to do in Spring Training this year. What's going on with him?
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\r\nContreras: I got to see him in Pawtucket and it was like 35 degrees, or something like that. It was really cold that day. What Ross was doing was he was picking the zone too much and not being as aggressive toward that strike zone. After his outing - I think he walked like four guys - I spoke to the two catchers and I spoke to Ross about using that hard-sinker and using the middle of the plate, just off-center, and let it work for you. Let that sinker work for you over the plate and let them hit a ground ball. If it finds the hole, it finds the hole, but at least we've got guys trying to field the baseball and we've got a chance. We don't have a chance when you walk guys. We don't want him giving in to those guys' [opposing batters] talent and stuff. When you've got the baseball in your hands, be aggressive and throw strikes. He is mixing in his new curveball. He had a real good slider that night and he's got a pretty decent changeup. In fact, the night of his last start, he threw 12 or 13 changeups and 9 or 10 of them were for strikes, so he's got a pretty good changeup for the future in New York. He's got some arm strength, he's learning a new delivery, while he's pitching at the Triple-A level, which is tough. He'll be alright.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: The entire Trenton team seems to be pitching well this year. What did you see from them during your trip to Trenton this year?
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\r\nContreras: Jeff Marquez was great. He was throwing strikes with both fastballs, he's going downhill and sinking the ball, he's throwing strikes with his curveball and his changeup. He has really matured and he's attacking the zone. Marquez is doing well. Alan Horne was pitching great and I think he's still pitching great. He has gotten used to his new [arm] slot, he's commanding the fastball far-side, hitting that mid-90's area with real good hard sink, he's got the curveball, he's got the changeup which has developed tremendously, he has a lot of action with the changeup and the slider is there, so Alan Horne is going to move quickly. He has done really, really well. Brett Smith went another - I don't know how many innings of shutout baseball he threw - he gave up two runs the other night but had no walks and seven strikeouts. All of his breaking balls, his changeup, he's throwing them for strikes. He's throwing it [the changeup or breaking ball] for strike one and he's throwing it with three balls for a strike and he's mixing in a fastball that the hitters are just not seeing. We're very happy with the way he has come along. Jason Jones has pitched really well. In his last outing his stuff was shorter and over the plate. He has pitched really well. His slider, his split, he's hiding his fastball. I know there was some scout who was following Trenton for a couple of weeks during that stretch and he told Scotty Aldred that he has never seen a staff, every one of them, pitch so well for so long. The bullpen, the starters, everybody was pitching well. The relievers we have there, Gerardo Casadiego is closing and that's his role. We've got Mike Gardener, Jeff Kennard, Kevin Whelan, who are all throwing the ball well. They were all part of that shutout bid, and Edwar Ramirez too.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Talk about Ramirez a little bit. He has been putting up the great numbers so far. What can you tell us about his stuff and does have a third pitch to go along with his fastball and changeup?
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\r\nContreras: His changeup is the best in the organization by far now. He has passed Marquez, he has passed DeSalvo, with his changeup. In his last outing he pitched three innings and struck out eight guys. He was locating some fastballs. Everything clicked for him that game. When I saw him, he had more changeups that he had to go to because the fastball was not in his command, but he was still throwing strikes with it. When he commands the fastball with that changeup that he throws, with his slider too, they don't smell him. They don't touch him. That changeup that he has is a monster. For Ramirez, that slider is all it is, just a show me pitch. Our biggest idea for him, what we're trying to do, is to fix his delivery to be able to command a fastball. If he commands a fastball with that changeup he has, he pitches in the big leagues. If he command the fastball - he has an average fastball - the slider will just be a show pitch once in a while. For whatever reason, he can command the changeup, but the fastball he tries to put a little too much on it and he doesn't control it as well. He really hasn't been with us for a full year yet, but things are happening real nice for him.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Ian Kennedy won pitcher of the month honors for the Tampa Yankees in what was really his first month with the Yankees. What have you seen from Ian so far?
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\r\nContreras: I haven't seen him pitch in a game yet, but I saw his bullpen session the other day. His delivery is getting so much better. He's staying back, he's getting the ball out front, his changeup is awesome, he's starting to learn and mix in the two-seam fastball, and [in the bullpen session] the two sinkers I saw were tremendous. The curveball is getting a lot more consistent where he gets it out in front. I know he has been pitching well.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Not many got to see much of David Robertson before Spring Training, but he came into the organization as this power arm with not much else and it seems to be the exact opposite. In fact, is his arsenal extensive enough that perhaps he could be used a starter?
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\r\nContreras: Well I wouldn't go that far. He's a two-inning guy right now. We'll protect him like we did J. Brent Cox two years ago. This is his first year. He'll pitch two innings, get two days off, and then pitch two innings again. What he has shown is he has some deception with his fastball, he's got some life to his fastball. I think he has been throwing just an average fastball [velocity-wise]. I don't know if he throws any harder than that but the fastball he's throwing is enough. What I do see out of Robertson is that he has a quality curveball. He had a little slider but we put that slider in the back pocket. So he's going to develop the curveball and he's going to develop the changeup, which he has been throwing one changeup an outing. So instead of the slider, he's going to throw the fastball, curveball, and the changeup in those two innings. If he throws 15 pitches in those two innings, he'll maybe throw one changeup. If he throws 35 pitches, he'll throw three or so. We use that ten percent rule. He didn't give up a run his first month or something like that. In fact, the first run he gave up was when I was there and in fact, I think it was on the slider. That's when we made the move on his slider.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Michael Dunn, until his last outing, was pitching lights-out. Has anything changed with him or is he just steady as he goes?
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\r\nContreras: Dunn is still continuing to learn his delivery. It's still not as good as we'd like it right now, but he's getting his arm up. He's got that quality slider, his changeup is there, he's got that two-seamer, and he throws strikes. Even when he was giving up those hits, he didn't back away from throwing strikes. A lot of young guys, when they get hit, they don't want to throw strikes and they start walking guys. Well he kept challenging guys even though it wasn't in the good location, here's a strike. He's not there completely, delivery-wise, but he's having a lot of success until that last outing. But that's part of baseball. If you can get four out of five good outings, or five out of six, we'll take that, whatever level you're at - the big leagues or the minor leagues. We're very happy with the development of Dunn.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Grant Duff doesn't seem to be the same pitcher I saw in the Gulf Coast League last year. What have you seen from Duff?
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\r\nContreras: Well when I was there Duff pitched six innings and he gave up one run or something like that. The stuff was not quite as crisp and hard. He's working real hard with Carlos Reyes in improving his delivery. In the Gulf Coast League, you can get away with a lot more pitches than you can in the South Atlantic League. He had stuff. He was throwing the ball harder then, but he was throwing the ball harder after this Extended Spring Training time. Maybe that's what happens, in June or something like that maybe he starts throwing with a lot more velocity than he is right now. But again, he's working real hard to fix his delivery. He's throwing strikes, he's not walking nowhere near as many guys than he did last year. No he's not getting as many strikeouts either, but he's getting deep into games at Charleston. I think his last outing he pitched seven innings or somewhere close to that. He's doing well. I still see him as a reliever but he's getting innings and learning how to pitch.
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\r\nPinstripesPlus: Angel Reyes can look unhittable one night and not seem to find the plate on other nights. Is that his biggest obstacle right now, just commanding the pitches that he has?
\r\n
\r\nContreras: Yes, that's exactly right. In the bullpen [sessions], he's throwing the ball really well. I saw a couple of his bullpens - the bullpen before his start and his bullpen after his start - and I was like, 'woah, very good'. He went into the game and tried to put a little more on his stuff, he was a little off wild-wise. So then he'd try to take a little bit off to throw more strikes. I'd rather he learn how to throw more strikes being him. If he's going to throw in the low-90's, throw in the low-90's, don't try and take something off to throw strikes, because that's not the type of pitcher that he is. He's a pitcher that's got a high ceiling because of the stuff that has. He's got a tremendous curveball, his changeup has developed - in fact the day I saw him he threw so many changeups, which is good but I still would have liked to have seen some more power stuff from him. Being 19 years old in that league, he's got the stuff but when hitters aren't chasing his stuff because it's a little too far out of the strike zone, he starts taking something off of his arm to start throwing strikes. He's a kid we work with everyday doing some dry-work, find his release points, and all of his pitches.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Ivan Nova is going to Charleston. Were you able to see any of his rehab games?
\r\n
\r\nContreras: I got to see one inning in his last game. The stuff is there. His stuff was like it was before we shut him down. The fastball, the velocity, the curveball - I think he was like ten out of twelve with his curveball - it was quality and for strikes. His changeups were there too, so he's got the pitches. He may scuffle a little bit to start off with in Charleston because he lost out on time being down, but it's okay. He's going to compete, his stuff is there, and he's in the strike zone. Will he be perfect in the strike zone right now? No, but that's why he's in Charleston and not in the big leagues. He's got a plus arm with plus pitches and we'll see some great things out of Mr. Nova.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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