If you need any proof that Spring Training is more about getting comfortable with new routines as opposed to stats and results, look no further than Marlins starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, whose biggest obstacle during Friday’s start was his own PitchCom. PitchCom, introduced to Major League Baseball in 2022, is a wearable device that transmits signals from catcher to pitcher by pressing buttons. The buttons, of course, are unlabeled to avoid opposing teams stealing signs.
After Cueto’s six-run outing, Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said it will take him some time to get used to it. Schumaker said Cueto is still not familiar with which buttons correspond to which pitches, and even had to shake off his own pitch calls after he inadvertently entered the wrong pitch.
“But that’s why you want them to try it now,” Schumaker said. “You don’t want it to be Opening Day or whatever game he’s going to pitch and shake himself off…And even the catcher’s last year, they had this chart and they’re looking at the chart to make sure they can memorize it. So the pitchers are going to have to do that—for the ones that are going to use it and want to take advantage of that type of thing. It just takes some time.”
Cueto, who was scheduled to pitch three innings in Friday’s game, gave up four runs in the first inning and recorded one out. He was temporarily relieved by Jeff Lindgren, who finished the first inning. As per Spring Training rules, Cueto was allowed to return in the second inning, where he retired the side in order.
In the third inning, Cueto allowed a solo home run to Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado and a double to right fielder Alec Burleson.
After the game, Cueto also cited mechanical issues that he wants to correct. The Dominican right-hander said it is affecting his ability to locate pitches.
“(Locating pitches) is the most important part (of Spring Training),” Cueto said. “For me, it’s not landing where I want. I’m opening a little bit…It’s about working out those little details in the spring. But of course, I also get upset when I see these types of results. I don’t want to look bad in front of my team.”
Schumaker said Cueto “will be okay” and said he trusts the 15-year veteran will figure things out. He added Cueto will likely have one more live bullpen session in the backfields of Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter before reporting to the Dominican Republic camp ahead of the World Baseball Classic next week.
“He’s a pro,” Schumaker said of his former Cincinnati Reds teammate. “He knows what he’s doing. So I think it’s just kind of video work, get in the bullpen, and he’ll be okay.”
-Marlins starters had seven hits. Jazz Chisholm Jr. (411 ft. HR), Garrett Cooper, and substitute Xavier Edwards each had two hits.
-Miami’s offense came into Friday with the worst OPS in the majors and the fewest runs scored. This game raised their OPS to .639.
-Jeff Lindgren, Matt Barnes, and Eli Villalobos each pitched scoreless outings. Daniel Castano gave up one run in two innings.
-Chisholm looks a bit more comfortable in CF. He had four putouts on Friday. He told reporters he’s been working a lot with fellow outfielders Avisaíl García, Jorge Soler, Peyton Burdick, and Bryan De La Cruz. I’ll have an article this weekend going into more detail about his relationship with those guys.
-A.J Puk (left leg tightness) and Tanner Scott (left biceps discomfort) each threw bullpen sessions Friday. Both threw approx. 20 pitches, said they felt good, and that they should be ready for Opening Day barring any additional setbacks.
-Marlins and Mets face off Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at Roger Dean. Jesús Luzardo is scheduled to pitch three innings. Kevin Barral and I will be on site to bring you live updates.