LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s a rite of spring training: pitchers dominate hitters in early “live” batting practice, because pitchers have been throwing for weeks while hitters have been facing pedestrian 60-70 mph fastballs from coaches.
So imagine the surprise when Braves left-hander Eric O’Flaherty, who led major league relievers with a 0.98 ERA, began pitching to Evan Gattis last week and the minor league catcher jacked one after another to the far reaches of the ballpark and beyond.
“Normally guys are late on your heater this time of year, but he was turning on it, pulling it,” O’Flaherty said. “He hit a deep foul, took a couple deep to left field and I was like, who is this guy” A lot of guys come in taking pitches and feeling their way; he swung at everything I threw and just crushed it.”
Pitchers typically tell