For a few seasons now, Craig Heyer has gone into the year wondering where his next inning would come from. Would he be starting? Would he be filling one of who knows many roles in the bullpen? But 2012 is different. At least for now.
The 26-year-old righty is beginning the year as the fourth starter for the Trenton Thunder, and although he told reporters countless times that he just wants the ball no matter what last year, he can’t be upset with finally knowing when he’s going to get it at the beginning of the year.
“I think for once, I do have a role out of the gate,” said Heyer through a smile. “I’ve been a spot guy at the start of the year for the last few years, and now they said why not do this for now. So, we’ll see. I’m excited about it. I’m throwing in the fourth game and I think it’s going to be a fun season.”
This is the Scottsdale, Ariz. native’s sixth season in the Yankees organization, and he’s made at least one start in each of the past five. He made six in his first year in High-A Tampa in 2009, 12 the following season and then 24 last year in his Double-A debut. Heyer, who reiterated that he’s happy with whatever role the organization put him in, has something else to look forward to this season as well: A cutter.
“I like it, it gets the guys off of my sinker a little bit,” said Heyer, who will throw the pitch for the first time this year.
“It keeps the lefties from diving out over the plate and I’ll try to go back in with that and give them a different look. I’d been pretty much the same pitcher for the last four or five years of my career, and I figure that I’d try to change something. The sinker-cutter is going to be my go-to, and hopefully I can get some ground balls and go through games quickly.”
The cutter has been known to put unnecessary stress on pitchers at times, but Heyer insists that there won’t be any problems.
“With my arm slot, it’s actually kind of easy,” he said. “I’m not trying to be overconfident with it, but I kind of picked it up pretty quick. We’ll see how it goes this year, I’m excited to get out there.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com // Twitter: Mashmore98