Spring training: Dotel has ... pennant fever?
Even while rehabbing, new Pirates closer's enthusiasm easy to see
Friday, March 12, 2010
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pirates closer Octavio Dotel makes his bullpen rehabilitation session Thursday at McKechnie Field. Pitcher Ross Ohlendorf and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan are among those watching.
BRADENTON, Fla. -- If anyone on the Pirates' 2010 roster is going to get dragged down by the franchise's miserable recent history, it surely will not be Octavio Dotel.
In the span of a half-hour Thursday morning ...
He pitched a spirited bullpen rehabilitation session, firings fastballs and kicking the rubber as if he were facing ... well, not a plastic dummy. When he threw one wildly inside, he shouted out, "I was trying to scare him!" And when he was done, he granted an interview to a Hispanic TV crew that he capped by crooning a song into the microphone.
"I'm having a great time," Dotel said shortly after that. "The players are great. The coaching staff. Everybody. I like what I see. When you see players who want to prove something, to show everybody, that's good."
Dotel is one of those in the proving category: He is 36 and aiming to show he is still capable of closing after two years as the Chicago White Sox's setup man.
But, in an interview Thursday, he seemed far more focused on the Pirates as a whole. And his daily enthusiasm carried over into the expectations he expressed.
"I hope it goes the way we're looking at it now," he said. "I think it's going to be something good for the city, for the fans and for everybody here to look forward to the Pirates being in the pennant race."
It was mentioned to Dotel that Pittsburgh has not seen one of those since 1997 and, of course, has not seen a winner since 1992.
"Yes, I know what the history is here. But I think we're starting over. We're going to change how people on the outside think about this team. There's talent here. And I believe in the people at the top, too. That's what I see since I've been here. They're not looking to trade players. They're looking to keep players as long as they can, to win, to be in the pennant race. That's good. When you have that mentality and the bosses have that mentality to prove themselves, they're going to bring in anyone we need to go to the next level."
He paused, then repeated: "That's what I see since I've been here. I don't see the past. The mentality here is about winning. And it should be that way. This is a major league team. It should have been that way a long time ago."
Dotel's 35-pitch bullpen session -- including 10 offspeed pitches -- was his second while recovering from a strained left oblique. He will have another Saturday and a live batting practice Monday. After that, he will pitch an inning of a minor league game.
"I feel really good that I'll be ready," Dotel said of the opener. "But I don't want to push it."