In The Pen With Pope

So far, so good for Ryan Pope.

The talkative 24-year-old righty has adjusted well to his new role as a reliever after some early struggles, stringing together three scoreless outings in which he’s allowed just three hits and struck out ten.  That’s a stark contrast to his first three outings out of the bullpen, in which he allowed four runs in his first six innings of work.

The difference?

“For me, it’s not trying to throw as hard as I possibly can,” Pope told me.

“I still have to be able to hit my spots.  I think the first couple of innings that I did, I was maybe trying to throw a little too hard and I was leaving the ball over the plate a little too much.  Now, I take something off and I’m able to hit my spots.”

Pope, who was drafted by the Yankees in the third round in 2007, had been a starter for his entire professional career.  So far, he seems to be enjoying his first foray as a reliever.

“I feel like things are going pretty well,” he said.

“You start off and you learn.  But I feel like I’ve gotten in a pretty good rhythm.  My mechanics feel consistent right now, and I’m throwing strikes downhill.”

One of the biggest adjustments Pope has had to make is going from knowing he’s going to pitch every five days to having to be ready at any given time.  Pitching coach Tommy Phelps has taken it easy with Pope since he’s new to relieving, and has given him a pretty good idea of when he’ll be getting into games.

“But you’ve still got be on your toes,” Pope said.

“I wasn’t thinking I’d be in the game in the fifth inning (on Friday).  But you still have to be ready.  You have to watch hitters all the time.

One sign that Pope’s already a veteran of the bullpen are his numbers, sure.  The other?  Already having shed the purple Hannah Montana backpack that the most recent addition to the bullpen must wear and carry out to right field before every game.

“I was only the temporary holder,” said Pope with a smile, knowing he’s surrendered the bag back to Cory Arbiso.

“It’s fun.  It’s a fun thing to have.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

One Response to “In The Pen With Pope”

  1. thunderfangabe Says:

    good stuff, mike. ryan is a good guy and seems to be adjusting well to the pen.

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