Lost in the many stories about Steve McCatty’s magical Playgirl photo shoot was the fact that McCatty can put together a pretty mean quote. The Nats pitching coach bared all yet again Wednesday night on 106.7 The Fan’s pregame show with Dave Jageler, as the naked, hairy truth rippled out, jiggling into homes all over the region.
For example, when Jageler asked about rookie Nathan Karns, who was set to make his MLB debut.
“One thing that sticks out in my mind about him is last year when I went down and watched Potomac play,” McCatty said. “They were at home, and they happened to be playing Baltimore’s minor-league team, and [Dylan] Bundy was pitching against Nathan. And I walked out of there, [and] if I wouldn’t have known the backgrounds between the two guys, and somebody said who do you think was the better pitcher, I’d have said Nathan. He threw the dog doo-doo out of it that day.”
Bundy, of course, is considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. But Karns was the one throwing the dog doo-doo out of the ball.
Or when Jageler asked about helping Karns decide what pitches to throw.
“I talked to him,” McCatty said. “I told him I’m gonna let Slappy – Suzuki, I just call him Slappy – I’ll just let Kurt take control of that. We talk all the time. I just said hey, Kurt’s gonna let you know what to throw, you go ahead and throw it. If there’s something that you feel more comfortable with, that you have more conviction in throwing at that point, go ahead and do it….”You’ve just got to let them go out and pitch and let them do what they do.”
Yes, the Nats pitching coach apparently refers to the team’s starting catcher as Slappy.
Or when Jageler asked about Strasburg rebounding from a tough start — in which he fell apart after an error — to have several solid appearances in a row.
“I talked to you about the story about the old mule,” McCatty began. “Sometimes you’ve got to hit him in the forehead with a sledgehammer to get his attention. So I’ve pounded him about as much as I can — since a few games ago when we all saw kind of what happened — and he’s really responded. Stephen, he’s very quiet, but a lot of things that you tell him, he’ll take to heart, he’ll try to get it in there and use it.
“Plus,” McCatty continued, “he’s been watching Jordan [Zimmermann] quite a bit, the way Jordan attacks, and even [Ross Detwiler]. So he’s watched that and seen how it’s really effective for them, and he’s trying to apply it. Again, it goes back to just saying you’ve got to trust yourself, work at a good tempo. And the thing I’ve pounded on him, I don’t care what happens during the game — if a ball falls in, a ball that’s missed, whatever — you’re gonna take charge. You’re gonna go up and tell them hey, I’ve got you. You’re the man that’s in charge here. You’ve got all the ability in the world to control the game and help everybody else out, and it’s time to step up and do that.
“And he’s been much better about it,” McCatty said, wrapping things up. “It’s something that you’ve got to learn how to do. It’s what he wants to do. But he said you know, I’m kind of a quiet guy. And I said ‘Hey, quiet guy’s got to open up, man. Take charge. You’re the man out there. You’ve got to lead ‘em.’ And he’s done that….He is growing. It’s a tough way to learn, in the big leagues. He has all the ability; now it’s [how] to apply all the other things.”