Pedro’s one-pitch-at-a-time world

One day early this Spring Training, Clint Hurdle was asked whether he’d prefer for Pedro Alvarez to play with more emotion. Whether it would do him good to get mad now and then, to not appear so tolerant of failure.

It seemed to be a generally innocuous question — reflecting occasional criticism of the third baseman’s playing style — but Hurdle revealed it to also be a touchy topic with his surprisingly heated response.

“I’m not going there,” the manager had said. “Everyone is different. Pedro has to be himself.”

That inner calm that can drive fans nuts is the same quality that enables Alvarez to be so productive — so unpredictably productive. We saw it again today, with his clutch and vicious bases-clearing double off Tony Cingrani.

That rookie left-hander had fanned Alvarez the first two times they had met — on a total of only seven pitches. This time, Alvarez was ready to punish one of those 95-mile fastballs.

And that sheds light on the key to Alvarez’s success: His ability to truly take each pitch, each at-bat, as an isolated event, a new opportunity. Unlike for fans, who may cringe as he strings together strikeouts, for Alvarez there is no cumulative burden, no carryover effect.

He can annoy people by claiming to have the same approach — first inning or ninth, batting clean-up or in the seven-hole, leading off or with two outs — because, well, what ever happened to “rising to the occasion.”

For Alvarez, every chance is a big occasion. He turns the page and the cheek — both requirements in pro ball — better than most.

That’s why Hurdle doesn’t need for Alvarez to get mad. They both know it’s better to get even.

1 Comment

Thank you for this insightful piece. Well done!

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