Pope Loosening Up

TAMPA, FL - One of the bigger stories this Spring Training has been the added velocity to Ryan Pope's fastball. It is not only a welcomed sight this camp, it has allowed him to loosen up in more ways than one and now his confidence is sky-high.

"It's going about as good as it can," Ryan Pope said of his Spring Training. "I came in and my goal was I had nothing to lose and it's going that way, I think I'm doing really well."

Doing well might be an understatement considering the 2007 third round pick posted 5-12 record and a 4.78 ERA for the Double-A Trenton Thunder last year, and for the most part had not been able to rediscover the 90-93 mph velocity he had in college at the professional level.

He did start showing bits of that, however, towards the end of last season when his pitching coach decided to speed up his tempo and not have Pope be so deliberate on the mound. Whatever the reason, Pope has been showing even better velocities in Spring Training this year.

"It was good," Pope said of popping some 94's in big league camp. "It's something that is a confidence boost as well as you can make minor mistakes here and there. It's something that I hadn't seen in a long time and it makes me very confident."

Speeding up his tempo was a big reason for the jump in speed last year. Moving to the bullpen in big league camp this year was another part of the equation for that little extra giddy-up on his fastball.

"Tommy Phelps helped me in the last six or seven games last year to figure out tempo and speed me up," he said. "I had a velo increase there too. It wasn't just now.

"But coming out of the pen you've got one inning to let it go and once I got the velo [increase] last year I was way more confident with my stuff and it made everything better.

"Out of the pen is a little different. Obviously over there you get a little nervous and get the adrenaline going too. That helps but the tempo thing is the biggest thing for me."

The extra velocity, which some would argue started with his 'nothing to lose' attitude, has had a ripple effect on the rest of his game. The increase in speed has boosted his confidence and that has allowed his secondary pitches to be better too.

"Definitely," he opined, "because you're not worried about trying to throw it for a strike. You just let it go and whatever happens, happens. I stopped worrying about it once I sped up my tempo and not think so much. Everything takes care of itself after that."

It remains to be seen if Pope, whose fastball sat in the 84-88 mph range for the better part of two years, will keep his regained velocity over the long haul in 2010. What doesn't seem likely to change is his newfound carefree attitude.

"I don't know what they're going to do [role-wise]," he said. "I'm happy with anything. If they want me to start, I'll start. If they me to relieve, I'll relieve. As of right now I'm a starter and I'm going to go that way."

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It's going about as good as it can,\" Ryan Pope said of his Spring Training. \"I came in and my goal was I had nothing to lose and it's going that way, I think I'm doing really well.\"
\r\n
\r\nDoing well might be an understatement considering the 2007 third round pick posted 5-12 record and a 4.78 ERA for the Double-A Trenton Thunder last year, and for the most part had not been able to rediscover the 90-93 mph velocity he had in college at the professional level.
\r\n
\r\nHe did start showing bits of that, however, towards the end of last season when his pitching coach decided to speed up his tempo and not have Pope be so deliberate on the mound. Whatever the reason, Pope has been showing even better velocities in Spring Training this year.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was good,\" Pope said of popping some 94's in big league camp. \"It's something that is a confidence boost as well as you can make minor mistakes here and there. It's something that I hadn't seen in a long time and it makes me very confident.\"
\r\n
\r\nSpeeding up his tempo was a big reason for the jump in speed last year. Moving to the bullpen in big league camp this year was another part of the equation for that little extra giddy-up on his fastball.
\r\n
\r\n\"Tommy Phelps helped me in the last six or seven games last year to figure out tempo and speed me up,\" he said. \"I had a velo increase there too. It wasn't just now.
\r\n
\r\n\"But coming out of the pen you've got one inning to let it go and once I got the velo [increase] last year I was way more confident with my stuff and it made everything better.
\r\n
\r\n\"Out of the pen is a little different. Obviously over there you get a little nervous and get the adrenaline going too. That helps but the tempo thing is the biggest thing for me.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe extra velocity, which some would argue started with his 'nothing to lose' attitude, has had a ripple effect on the rest of his game. The increase in speed has boosted his confidence and that has allowed his secondary pitches to be better too.
\r\n
\r\n\"Definitely,\" he opined, \"because you're not worried about trying to throw it for a strike. You just let it go and whatever happens, happens. I stopped worrying about it once I sped up my tempo and not think so much. Everything takes care of itself after that.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt remains to be seen if Pope, whose fastball sat in the 84-88 mph range for the better part of two years, will keep his regained velocity over the long haul in 2010. What doesn't seem likely to change is his newfound carefree attitude.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't know what they're going to do [role-wise],\" he said. \"I'm happy with anything. If they want me to start, I'll start. If they me to relieve, I'll relieve. As of right now I'm a starter and I'm going to go that way.\"
\r\n
\r\n

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

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\r\n

\r\n

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