Diamondbacks rituals: Pancakes and preparation
February 24, 12:09 pm
By William Boor
From sandwiches to pancakes, baseball players are habitual about their workouts, game day rituals and meals.
“It kind of depends year by year but I find a meal that’s good for me going into that start,” pitcher Barry Enright said. “Whatever feels good, whether it’s a sandwich that day or even the night before. [I may also have] wheat pancakes for a little extra energy. If you have a good start, you’re doing it every start. Once you find something that works … you’re having success, you don’t want to do anything differently.”
Like peanuts and cracker jack, the words “superstition” and “baseball” seem to go hand in hand but the Diamondbacks pitchers try to avoid superstitious behavior. They feel it can have a negative impact on their performance.
“I just feel like they’re hard to follow,” pitcher Ian Kennedy said. “Superstitious stuff you feel like you have to do it to be ready for the game. I’ve had that and I feel like you think to yourself, ‘Oh man I didn’t eat that today.’ It gets in your head and you start thinking about that rather than your task, which is to pitch a game. I don’t believe in having any superstitious stuff. I think a routine is more important because for me it’s on the schedule.”
Some pitchers may treat days on which they start drastically different than others but Kennedy remains on a schedule and arrives at the stadium about the same time regardless.
When he’s pitching, the 21-game winner from a season ago takes the field about 40 minutes prior to first pitch to stretch and throw. However, everyone is different. Kennedy said teammate Edwin Jackson used to take only 15 minutes to stretch and throw prior to a start.
While on the mound, pitchers focus on nuances and their own routines. They are often so engrossed in their pre-pitch ritual they never know what the batter’s doing.
“Growing up I used to pay attention,” Enright said. “You know Nomar Garciaparra, he would come out, do his wristbands, click his heels and get back in and every single time he would do it. Now I kind of focus on what I need to do, being on the mound now as opposed to the guy watching, you don’t really pay attention to it.”
Kennedy echoed these sentiments.
“Only time we see it is when we’re sitting on the bench,” Kennedy said. “I don’t really see it when I’m pitching but Pablo Sandoval, I see his routine only because I’m on the bench watching. If I was only on the mound, I’d never see it.”
The pair of Arizona pitchers might not initially notice a batter’s preparation but if it becomes extreme or interrupts them, the men on the mound take notice.
“If it gets excessive, that’s when it might fire you up a little bit,” Enright said. “You might buzz someone’s tower or give them a little chin music, but other than that, as long as no one’s being excessive or showboating, I don’t really pay attention to it.”
Although he tries to stay away from superstitions, there is one superstition Enright and a number of players adhere to.
“The only superstition I really have would be when I jump over the line getting to the mound every inning,” Enright said. “I don’t know why it’s superstition, I don’t know why people do it, but no one really jumps on the line. You start running and you jump over it. You are conscious of it. You make sure that you do jump over it and you are missing the line. It’s something that being athletic enough you aren’t real worried about it, but you do make sure that you don’t step on the line.”
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