Pitching to the Strings

One of the things pitchers do in spring training is pitch to “the strings”.

Considering today’s technology, it may appear to be a rather primitive setup — all it is, after all, is a special bullpen set up with pairs of wooden posts driven into the ground, and a string attached in between. The key is the height of the string — it’s placed where the average batter’s bottom of the strike zone would be. The idea is to get pitchers to throw strikes “at the knees”.

Here are some photos of that special bullpen area, where Mets pitchers spend a good portion of their workday.

Bullpen coach Guy Conti watching pitches from the batter’s perspective.

Guy Conti at the strings

Catchers squatting behind the strings.
Catchers behind the strings

John Maine throws to the strings while other Mets pitchers wait their turn.
John Maine throws to strings

Again it’s Maine, with Conti providing instruction.
Guy Conti watching John Maine

And here I am, right next to the ‘pen, trying not to get pelted by an errant pitch and trying not to be arrested. Everything was going fine until I tried to tell Conti that Maine was opening up too soon and that he needed to increase everyone’s pitch count … a few minutes later some men in dark sunglasses escorted me to the parking lot, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I got some nice shots of Pedro’s hubcaps.
Joe Janish at Tradition Field

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.